Though my mother is not a complete luddite, she’s never been interested in what’s trendy and has no concern for new products or technology. She doesn’t have a computer and has never sent or received an e-mail message. She has no cell phone—in fact, has had no phone at all for the past quarter century. Most three-year-olds have watched more television in their young lives than she has in over eighty-eight years. She no longer has a radio either, but appreciates newspapers. Unlike most aging people, she was eager to give up the car keys, turning them in the day my youngest sibling turned sixteen. I don’t think she has ever snapped a photograph but may have ridden an airplane a time or two. She’s not against advancement and is not necessarily resistant to change, nor does she particularly like the way things were in the past; she merely has other priorities.
Ned Ludd was, supposedly, a British laborer during the Industrial Revolution who protested machinery replacing human workers. Of course, he nor anybody else can stop or even slow down progress: we are more than aware that electronic progress in our own time is moving at lighting speed with a mighty force. Personally, I would welcome robot-workers, robot-friends, robot-pets, flying cars, and all the other stuff that The Jetsons suggested might be part of our twenty-first century world. I’m all for smart-phones being extensions of persons as long as the heart of humanity is still directed toward love. It seems that just as business ethics and medical ethical ethics run far behind progress in those same fields, so is technological ethics running far behind electronic advancements; and many people are getting hurt in the process. We’ve got to be smarter, too—and I think we can. For example, I find it fascinating that some spiritualists utilize Alexa’s collection capacity of content and context to organize their thoughts and re-present them with deeper insights and higher thinking.
At the same time, many of us long for a simpler way of life like the one that my mom embraces. I suspect I inherited her general attitude because I find myself pushing back daily against the latest and greatest gadgets for virtual communication and I get frustrated with co-workers and peers who go to their computers before going to the person with whom they ought to talk and listen. My mother’s priorities, to which I alluded in the opening paragraph, include spending personal, in the flesh, face time with those she loves and encouraging us to direct ourselves toward God’s love. I hope that our moral compass will move us in that direction as we meander through cyber communications, and that we will be ever mindful of those that get harmed by instant and irrevocable public postings.
Like my mom, I don’t much care for what’s trendy. I am, however, interested in progress. I just hope and pray that as society advances in the realm of technological communications, we give equal attention to real face-to-face interactions. And I hope that as we develop ethical guidance for our cyber world and all its words, we will set our compass toward the word that matters most: Christ, the Word of God, who beckons us toward His message of love.