I have long had a love-hate relationship with technology. I love what digital devices empower us to do, but I hate that it's so easy to abuse or be abused by others through those same devices.
Today I had an experience that reaffirmed my appreciation for smartphones. In my church, adults and youth are given responsibility to look after and help other individuals and families in our community. We call this “ministering.” My 16-year-old son and I are ministering companions and we have the opportunity to minister to four different households.
I have caught myself slipping. Picking up the smartphone out of pure habit to cycle through apps and websites. Grabbing the laptop to tinker or look something up on the web or whatever. I keep removing apps, using website blockers, etc. I just reinstall apps, pause website blockers, etc. But the impulse remains. There is a deeply ingrained urge, a need to stare at a screen – any screen. For any reason or no reason at all.
For the past 8 months I have been using the Day One app to keep a digital journal. It's a fantastic app with a lot of neat features. They even recently released a web app to allow you to create journal entries using a browser. Even so, I'm thinking about keeping a journal by hand again.
The latest technology craze is AI – artificial intelligence. From ChatGPT to Midjourney, the potential and promise of AI has captured our attention and imagination.
But I have the same concerns about AI as I have with virtual reality and the “Metaverse”, social media, smartphones – media and computer technology in general. We talk a lot about what we gain by embracing these technologies, but we talk too little about what we might be losing or giving up.
I haven't been in a good place mentally or emotionally the past several weeks. In most of my free time I played video games or watched TV and had no desire to do much of anything else. Aside from alternating feelings of anxiousness and guilt, I felt mostly numb.
When a young Neil L. Anderson was preparing to serve his mission, he felt inadequate. He prayed: “Heavenly Father, how can I serve a mission when I know so little?” As he prayed, he had the impression: “You don’t know everything, but you know enough!”
Whenever I am struggling in body or in spirit, whenever I'm wrestling with confusion or doubts, I try to direct my thoughts to the plain and precious things I know about my faith, and how I came to know these things.