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The Digital Invasion (Part 1) - Dangers of Technology, Need to Rest the Brain, Multitasking

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I. The dangers of technology
1. Inventions aren't always a good thing (Ecc 7:29; Psa 106:29,39).
2. "If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery, in impoverishment." (Michael Harrington, The Other America, 1962)
3. "Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden, "Economy," 1854)
4. "Technology and production can be great benefactors of man, but they are mindless instruments, and if undirected they careen along with a momentum of their own. In our country, they pulverize everything in their path -- the landscape, the natural environment, history and tradition, the amenities and civilities, the privacy and spaciousness of life, much beauty, and the fragile, slow-growing social structures that bind us together." (Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America, 1970)
5. "There is a demon in technology. It was put there by man and man will have to exorcise it before technological civilization can achieve the eighteenth-century ideal of humane civilized life." (Rene Dubos, A God Within, 1972)
6. "Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it." (Albert Einstein, 1931)

II. The dangers our minds face from digital technology
1. God has designed our brains to meditate, contemplate, and think deeply, especially on His word.
A. The scriptures should be our meditation all the day (Psa 1:1-2; Psa 119:97; Jos 1:8).
B. Meditation n. - 1. The action, or an act, of meditating; continuous thought or musing upon one subject or series of subjects; serious and sustained reflection or mental contemplation.
C. We should meditate in God's word (Psa 119:15).
D. Meditate v. - 1. trans. To muse over or reflect upon; to consider, study, ponder. b. To fix one's attention upon; to observe with interest or intentness.
E. We should muse on God's works (Psa 143:5).
F. Muse v. - 1. a. To be absorbed in thought; to meditate continuously in silence; to ponder.
G. A pastor is especially supposed to meditate upon the scriptures (1Ti 4:15).
H. Question: Do smartphones and tablets facilitate and encourage meditation and continuous thought or prohibit and hinder it?
2. In this digital age with all its distractions and sound-bite information, we are losing the ability to meditate and contemplate on God's word (and anything else for that matter).
3. The most frightening consideration is, that once lost, the brain may not be able to regain this ability.
4. The following are quotes from The Digital Invasion by Dr. Archibald D. Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd:
A. "For example, researchers are warning that the ability to "contemplate" or "meditate" declines in those who over-engage the digital world." (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, page 29)
B. "...the New York Times reported that the chief technology officer of eBay now sends his children to a nine-classroom school where technology is totally omitted. 14 Yes, you read correctly, "technology is totally omitted." But that is not all. So do the employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard. The schools they go to use teaching tools that are anything but high-tech. They use old-fashioned pens and paper and a blackboard with different-colored chalk. Remember these? There's not a computer to be found anywhere. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home." (Ibid, page 51)
C. "Just think about the impact that "abbreviated texting," will have on future generations' ability to spell. It is possible that at some time in the future there will be no need for children even to learn spelling, since all gadgets will be voice activated and do the spelling for us. How users spell words will not matter at all. Computers will correct all our errors, just as, or better, than they do now as we write.
But is this a healthy outcome? Many do not think so. It is more likely that the brain's basic structure and functioning could be modified to such an extent that it cannot revert to earlier functioning. In other words, once we have lost the art of spelling, we may never be able to retrieve it." (Ibid, page 60, underline mine - CEW)
D. "Is it possible that the neglect of some brain mechanisms, due to our overdependence on digital technology, could change our brain to such and extent that it will never function again as it used to? According to scientists like Dr. Small, this could happen." (Ibid)

III. The need to rest the brain
1. Rest is very important to physical, mental, and spiritual health.
A. A lack of rest can be due to factors outside the body, or inside the mind (2Co 7:5).
B. Our bodies need rest and sleep, which is a gift from God (Psa 127:2).
i. Sleep facilitates healing (Joh 11:12).
ii. Even Jesus needed sleep (Mat 8:24-25) and rest (Joh 4:6).
C. Our minds need leisure time.
i. Jesus exhorted His disciples to get away from everyone and to take a rest from all the hustle and bustle (Mar 6:31).
ii. Mental rest is not found in the presence of other people.
D. We need spiritual rest for our souls also.
i. Jesus invites men to come unto Him, not the internet, for this rest (Mat 11:28-30).
ii. Our rest is found in believing in Christ and ceasing from our own works (Heb 4:9-11).
2. In today's digital world, our bodies, and especially our brains, and not getting the rest and idle time they need.
3. This is having detrimental effects on us. The following are quotes from The Digital Invasion:
A. "We are only really thinking when our brain is idle. It can't do much thinking when other demands take precedence. Unlike the idling engine of your automobile that is not achieving anything or going anywhere when the car is stopped, an idling brain is hard at work. A brain at rest is a thinking brain." (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, page 72)
B. "If we allow the external world of digital technology to dominate our brain and not give it any "internal" time for itself, we will pay the price in reduced productivity and increased human misery." (Ibid)
C. "To be healthy in mind and spirit in our digital go-go-go world, we need to find time for reflection and deliberation. We also need to give the brain adequate recovery time, meaning, of course, more sleep time. Otherwise, we can never truly think thoughts of our own. This is also true for our spiritual lives where contemplation, meditation, and other spiritual practices play a significant role." (Ibid)
D. "If we do not build rest and relaxation into our lives, we will become less effective thinkers and increase our stress and anxiety over the issues that stole our relaxation in the first place. When your brain gets the rest it needs, you learn better and become more creative." (Ibid)

IV. Multitasking
1. A popular practice today in the business world and in our personal lives is multitasking, which has been greatly enhanced by the digital world.
2. God is not a multitasker, but a sequential-tasker.
A. When God created the universe, He didn't leave off creating the sun and stars to start working on the fish, only to be interrupted by His land animal project.
B. He did His projects in order, completing one before starting another (Gen 1).
3. God does things with purpose.
A. God saved us according to His purpose (Eph 1:7-11; Rom 8:28; Rom 9:11; 2Ti 1:9).
B. Purpose is the opposite of multitasking.
i. Multi-tasking n. - The concurrent execution of a number of different tasks or jobs, as by interleaving or multiprocessing.
ii. Purpose v. - II. To set before oneself for accomplishment. 3. a. trans. To place before oneself as a thing to be done or attained; to form a purpose of doing (something); to design or resolve upon the performance of.
iii. Purpose n. - 1. a. That which one sets before oneself as a thing to be done or attained; the object which one has in view.
C. Paul and his fellow ministers were not ones to be wavering in their purpose either (2Co 1:17-20).
D. We are to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus which speaks of being focused (Phi 3:14).
4. Multitasking is just another name for distraction.
A. God wants our undivided attention (1Co 7:35).
B. So do our employers; they are not paying us to be distracted at work by spending time texting, emailing, and Facebooking.
C. Someone who is easily distracted has a weak or feeble mind.
D. Feeblemindedness is not a virtue (1Th 5:14).
E. Have you ever heard foolish young people describe themselves as "random"?
F. Martha was cumbered about much serving and was not focused on Jesus (Luk 10:40).
i. Cumber v. - 1. trans. To overwhelm, overthrow, rout, destroy. b. pass. To be overwhelmed and held fast, as in a slough.
ii. Martha was careful and troubled about many things (Luk 10:41).
iii. In other words, Martha was multitasking.
iv. Mary on the other hand was intently listening to Jesus (Luk 10:39).
v. She focused on that one thing which was needful (Luk 10:42).
vi. Mary was not a multitasker.
5. Multitasking is thought to increase efficiency, but the opposite is the case. It actually lowers performance and intelligence.
A. ""This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind." 1 Doing one thing at a time was, and still is, a mark of true intelligence." (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, page 74 (quoting Lord Chesterfield))
B. "There is overwhelming evidence that multitasking lowers our level of performance. Studies at Harvard and Stanford Universities, using their brightest students, support this finding. Giving them sequential and multitasking projects, they found that ALL the students' performances were reduced about one-third when multitasking. 8 What is also notable about this study is that the students ALL reported at the end that they thought they were actually doing better when multitasking than when sequential tasking." (Ibid, page 81)
C. "This same study, conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry in London, found that excessive use of technology also reduces workers' intelligence. Those distracted by incoming email and phone calls suffered a 10 percent decrease in their working IQ." (Ibid, page 82)
6. Multitasking also limits our ability to pay attention and learn.
A. Learning requires meditation and study (1Ti 4:15).
B. Meditation is the opposite of multitasking.
i. Multi-tasking - . n. The concurrent execution of a number of different tasks or jobs, as by interleaving or multiprocessing.
ii. Meditation n. - 1. The action, or an act, of meditating; continuous thought or musing upon one subject or series of subjects; serious and sustained reflection or mental contemplation.
iii. Meditate v. - 1. trans. To muse over or reflect upon; to consider, study, ponder. b. To fix one's attention upon; to observe with interest or intentness.
C. A fool's eyes are in the ends of the earth (Pro 17:24), but a wise man's eyes are in his head (Ecc 2:14).
i. A fool's mind is undisciplined, jumping from one thought to another.
ii. When talking to such an one (especially about doctrine), you must reign them in and make them focus on the topic at hand.
iii. This is something we all should train our own minds to do.
D. Consider again the words Dr. Hart and Dr. Frejd:
i. "Internet overuse is making our students shallow thinkers, as some experts allege.12" (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, page 82)
ii. "Multitasking robs us of the ability to pay attention. As every parent and teacher knows, paying attention is essential to learning. People who have accomplished great things all have one essential characteristic: they have mastered the art of paying attention." (Ibid, page 85)
iii. "In other words, it is natural for the very young to be distractible. But as a child matures, he or she has to learn how to stay focused and pay attention, and this only happens through disciplined training, not multitasking." (Ibid)
iv. "We believe that all this wealth of information is creating a poverty of attention." (Ibid, page 86)
E. Is it any wonder that many children today are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
F. Be sure to remove all distractions from your children when they are studying or being taught (TV, cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc.).

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