I’m fascinated as I watch folks using technology across the social spectrum. I see folks at the airport fumbling with getting their boarding pass on their phone, I see folks at the checkout line trying to use Apple Pay, I see folks at the gas station trying to get the pump to accept their payment method. It makes me wonder why. I’m all for learning new things, but beware of the technological imperative: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
I can put a turbo charger on the engine of my car. I have no doubt it will make my car faster, but should I? First of all, I know nothing about cars. While I get the premise behind the internal combustion engine, I’m not sure I fully understand its application to my vehicle. I could purchase the turbo and pay someone else to put it on for me and then to support me while I try to use it. Or I could purchase the turbo and attempt to install it and maintain it myself.
My vehicle is a necessary part of my life. I depend on it to get to work, Starbucks, haircuts, appointments, etc. Without my car I’m rather stuck. If I put a turbo on my engine and try to make it work myself the burden that will create on me and anyone who is willing to help me would be great as I need my car for life. I could hire a mechanic to ride around with me all the time but that seems super expensive. I could just ask some friends who know a lot about cars and engines but that seems a big ask, especially if I install it all wrong.
Then there are the poor folks who might get stuck behind me in traffic when my car won’t go because of something I did to my engine trying to get the turbo to work. Again, just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
The Technological Imperative:
The same is true with technology. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate and there are many things that can be “improved’ through technology, but that doesn’t mean technology is right for everyone. It is ok to use a paper boarding pass. It is ok to pay with cash or write a check at the checkout line. It is ok to go into the gas station to pay for your gas.
When I think of ministries and organizations and their technology support needs, I often question if we are supporting things we should support or supporting things we shouldn’t even be attempting. My computer can support up to 12 monitors, does that mean I should, or I should add that support load to someone else so I can have 12 monitors?
Don’t let the perceived need to use technology make you ineffective. It’s ok to call someone instead of sending a text. It’s ok to balance your checkbook using the register booklet that comes with your checks. (Yes, I’m old.) Don’t waste time trying to use technology when you can accomplish the same thing using a tried and true, analog method.
Beware the technological imperative: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission. Jonathan Smith is an author, conference speaker, and the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN. You can reach Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith.