In the West we tend to have a particularly hard time saying “no” to any new technology that comes along. This is rather unfortunate on our part. New technologies carry with them fundamental changes or shifts in our culture. And not every shift or change is well thought out, anticipated, or even beneficial.
In 2006 the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, decided to ban the use of camera phones after his wife inadvertently received pornographic pictures on her new phone.
I have written to the Minister of Telecommunications to delay the use of certain mobile phones. We can wait 10 more years until we have managed to improve morality in society. -Hun Sen
Of course, Hun was ridiculed at the time by almost every news outlet in the West. Who wouldn’t want a camera phone? What a Luddite…
But with sexting becoming such a problem among teenagers I am left wondering. Was Hun Sen’s decision really so outlandish? What if Hun Sen was able to understand something we in the West desperately need to learn.
Namely, when to say no (or not yet) to new technology.
Technology has become a god “in the sense that people believe technology works, that they rely on it, that it makes promises, that they are bereft when denied access to it, that they are delighted when they are in its presence, that for most people it works in mysterious ways, that they condemn people who speak against it, that they stand in awe of it, and that in the born-again mode, they will alter their lifestyles, their schedules, their habits, and their relationships to accommodate it. If this be not a form of religious belief, what is?”
–Neil Postman, The End of Education
Cyberspace stands in sharp contrast to the book. The book is linear.Its very nature affects how and what we understand—and so does the nature of cyberspace. But they are very different. The communications medium employed shapes the message: “the medium is the message” is true, whether one accepts all the details of McLuhan’s communications theory or not. There are inherent characteristics in the very medium that do affectboth what can be communicated and how it is communicated. Technology is not neutral.
Television, for example, molds and shapes what we understand from a message and even how we view our world as we peer through its lens (more on that below). Likewise the technology of cyberspace. Staring
into its glassy face affects the shape of the message transmitted, the receiver, and the transmitter in unexpected (and often unhelpful) ways. The book differs from both television and the Internet in significant ways—ways that impact the nature of Christianity.
Christianity, as Judaism before it, is a revealed religion. Its base is in revelation. From the first recorded revelation of God and his will to humanity—inscribed in stone by the finger of God—to the Torah, to the completed OT, to the incarnational revelation of the Son, to the writings which comprise our Greek testament, all assume propositional truth as the essence of communication. We have a worldview that is almost exclusively text-based.
Communicating the Text in Cyberspace