I’m probably among the few people, practically anywhere, with no Smartphone. And people often wonder why, so I explain that for me it’s a matter of ethics. Ethics that extend to my shopping and use of technology. Because I believe that my faith should guide every area of life, including those.
Hubby and I tend to go against the flow of commercialism and materialism. The insatiable need for bigger, better, and more which seems to drive the world today, and which companies are all too happy to fill.
They dangle the carrot of new, bigger, and better products and like sheep consumers chase after them – even if the items aren’t needed. Sometimes even jumping off the cliff into financial difficulty.
So we have ethics that guide our technology use and purchases.
First, what are ethics?
Ethics are principles or systems of morals that define right conduct. We all have them, even if we don’t realize it. Some people have very lax ethics, thinking “What does it really matter?” Others watch every P and Q. But we all have them to some degree.
Should ethics affect our technology use?
Should they affect our use of technology and internet? And if so, in what way?
For me, it’s not a question of do’s and dont’s, which could quickly turn into legalism. Rules which say computers and cell phones are OK, but not Smartphones and video game systems.
Yet ethical guidelines can help us wisely choose how and to what extent we should embrace technology. Or any area of life, for that matter!
Questions to ask
So, what questions should we ask in evaluating use and purchase of technology? (These questions are based upon an article from the ASA, American Scientific Association by Keith B. Miller.)
1. Does it empower or control me?
Does my purchase or use of technology empower me – or control me?
I don’t want my life to be controlled by things or by an imagined need of them. Yet sadly people do become controlled by technology or an imagined ‘need’ of it, even waiting days in line to get the newest models. All that time for non-essential items. Time that could have been spent with family, resting, or enjoying life.
2. Does it meet real needs?
Does my purchase and use of technology meet real needs or market-generated wants?
I believe that caring for others is more important than amassing non-essential items. Companies push the constant drive for the latest and best by creating new wants. Real needs are relatively few. Few people have true need of continuous internet connection. Especially at the cost of being disconnected from those nearest and dearest to us. Or at the cost of failing in our responsibilities of caring for our loved ones and reaching out to others.
3. Is it a wise use of money?
Does it help me be a good steward?
How wise can it be to buy things we don’t really need, or replace things that still work well? Perhaps it’s time to get back to living as our grandparents did. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it or replace it!”
4. Does it appropriately use resources?
Does it help me care for God’s earth?
I want to care for the earth through true contentment. Aside from the sometimes deplorably unsafe and unethical production methods, continual manufacturing of non-essential items greatly depletes natural resources and damages the environment. Earth care is good stewardship of one of God’s greatest gifts: our beautiful earth. And deep contentment can help us tend to it.
5. Is it socially responsible?
Does it help me fulfill my social responsibilities?
Christ enjoins us to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Can we adequately do that while continually spending on things we don’t really need? Shouldn’t our giving at least come close to matching what we spend on non-essential items?
Don’t follow the crowd
Wise choices are about choosing what’s right and what’s best for us, and not just following the crowd.
I work at home and have a great computer and unlimited internet right here. If I owned a Smartphone probably all I would do is check social media when away.
But I don’t get out of the house much and when I do, I want to enjoy my real life relationships! Social media will wait until I have time. So I don’t own a Smartphone because I don’t need one, and would seldom use one if I did.
And how about you? Do you make choices or purchases just because everyone’s doing it, or because it’s the right thing and best for you?
Resource: Stewardship as a Christian Worldview by Keith B. Miller, Ph.D.