A few nights ago, my son asked me if he could watch television. I agreed. Josh wanted to watch “One of his shows” (his code word for Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney). I agreed and said I would check to see what was currently on. He pressed further . . . “I want to watch “Wow Wow Wubbzy.” Now, for those of you who do not have a toddler in the house, “Wow Wow Wubbzy” is an animated show about the adventures of three non-descript animals. The animation on this show looks like pencil drawings and the plot-lines are overly simple . . . but Josh loves it. I imagine that the feeling I got when Josh wanted to watch Wubbzy was the same one my Dad must have gotten when I wanted to watch Sid and Marty Krofft’s painfully bad “Land of the Lost” some 33 years ago — what goes around comes around!
As I scrolled through Josh’s channels, however, I breathed a sigh of relief — Wubbzy was not on. “Wow wow,” I thought. “That was a close call.” However, as I began to see what else was on, Josh piped up, “It’s on the machine.” “The machine” that Josh was referring to was the DVR machine in our living room. Josh was right, we had about 10 episodes of Wubbzy recorded and ready for instant playback. It was at this moment, for the first time, I loathed the DVR.
Now, I did not loathe the DVR for the reasons you might expect. I was not upset that we were going to be able to watch another episode of Wubbzy. Truthfully, most of the programming on these channels is not really “One of my shows,” so there was not a single program I was hoping was on as I scanned the children’s section. My disdain for the DVR came in realizing that my son was going to grow up in a world that would be increasingly tailored to him . . . and it made me sad.
Today, we live in the “me” generation. We have iPods, iPads, and iPhones. It is not an accident that these all begin with the letter “i”. They are all devices designed to make us ever more independent from each other:
Don’t want to listen to the family’s music? Put on your headphones.
Don’t want to share a telephone line? Get a cell phone.
Don’t want to watch what the rest of the family is watching? Stream something else online at one of the four other screens in the house.
Though I had seen all these devices as potentially isolating, I had never viewed the DVR in this light. However, as Josh asked for Wubbzy, and I could deliver it, I realized that no longer would America all be watching Seinfeld at 8 PM on Thursdays or the news at 5:30 on the network of your choice. Our world is far more personalized now. We watch things when we want to, where we want to. While there are certainly benefits from this, it also is another reminder of our forever quest to liberate ourselves from others. As humans, of course we want to liberate ourselves from others . . . the very fabric of our sin nature longs to wander off to follow our own way. Technology is just now making it possible for us to be selfish faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Now, I love technology. I have many of the devices I previously mentioned and use technology all the time. There are many good things about it, however, I think I (and probably many of us) need to stop sometimes and think about how the technology we use can simply fuel our selfishness. While it is nice to watch only “one of our shows,” there is something nice about the world not always being about us as we “watch” and participate in the live reality of the rest of our world.
Stop for a moment today and reflect on the technology you use. In what ways is it unintentionally isolating you from others? Try to find ways to limit your technological consumption to create the space to connect with those you love and who God wants to love through you.