How Evil is Tech?

 

Hey TD!

We all love and appreciate technology. Like anything that began as good, however, it’s easy to indulge and be owned by it. Was that the intention all along? Is tech as innocuous as we think? What is actually going on behind our screens? What’s the intention for us?

A while ago, my son, Nathaniel, sent this over to me. I thought it was an insightful read by New York Times Op-Ed columnist and political and cultural commentator, David Brooks. I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment. – Arthur

How Evil Is Tech?

Not long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But over the past year the mood has shifted.

Some now believe tech is like the tobacco industry — corporations that make billions of dollars peddling a destructive addiction. Some believe it is like the N.F.L. — something millions of people love, but which everybody knows leaves a trail of human wreckage in its wake.

Surely the people in tech — who generally want to make the world a better place — don’t want to go down this road. It will be interesting to see if they can take the actions necessary to prevent their companies from becoming social pariahs.

There are three main critiques of big tech.

The first is that it is destroying the young. Social media promises an end to loneliness but actually produces an increase in solitude and an intense awareness of social exclusion. Texting and other technologies give you more control over your social interactions but also lead to thinner interactions and less real engagement with the world.

As Jean Twenge has demonstrated in book and essay, since the spread of the smartphone, teens are much less likely to hang out with friends, they are less likely to date, they are less likely to work.

Eighth graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who spend less time. Eighth graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent. Teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, like making a plan for how to do it. Girls, especially hard hit, have experienced a 50 percent rise in depressive symptoms.

The second critique of the tech industry is that it is causing this addiction on purpose, to make money. Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with “hijacking techniques” that lure us in and create “compulsion loops.

Snapchat has Snapstreak, which rewards friends who snap each other every single day, thus encouraging addictive behavior. News feeds are structured as “bottomless bowls” so that one page view leads down to another and another and so on forever. Most social media sites create irregularly timed rewards; you have to check your device compulsively because you never know when a burst of social affirmation from a Facebook like may come.

The third critique is that Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are near monopolies that use their market power to invade the private lives of their users and impose unfair conditions on content creators and smaller competitors. The political assault on this front is gaining steam. The left is attacking tech companies because they are mammoth corporations; the right is attacking them because they are culturally progressive. Tech will have few defenders on the national scene.

Obviously, the smart play would be for the tech industry to get out in front and clean up its own pollution. There are activists like Tristan Harris of Time Well Spent, who is trying to move the tech world in the right directions. There are even some good engineering responses. I use an app called Moment to track and control my phone usage.

The big breakthrough will come when tech executives clearly acknowledge the central truth: Their technologies are extremely useful for the tasks and pleasures that require shallower forms of consciousness, but they often crowd out and destroy the deeper forms of consciousness people need to thrive.

Online is a place for human contact but not intimacy. Online is a place for information but not reflection. It gives you the first stereotypical thought about a person or a situation, but it’s hard to carve out time and space for the third, 15th and 43rd thought.

Online is a place for exploration but discourages cohesion. It grabs control of your attention and scatters it across a vast range of diverting things. But we are happiest when we have brought our lives to a point, when we have focused attention and will on one thing, wholeheartedly with all our might.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that we take a break from the distractions of the world not as a rest to give us more strength to dive back in, but as the climax of living. “The seventh day is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, joy and reticence,” he said. By cutting off work and technology we enter a different state of consciousness, a different dimension of time and a different atmosphere, a “mine where the spirit’s precious metal can be found.”

Imagine if instead of claiming to offer us the best things in life, tech merely saw itself as providing efficiency devices. Its innovations can save us time on lower-level tasks so we can get offline and there experience the best things in life.

Imagine if tech pitched itself that way. That would be an amazing show of realism and, especially, humility, which these days is the ultimate and most disruptive technology.

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“Free Forum Friday” Tonight!(pre-party@7:15)

 

Hey TD!

Get ready for Free Forum Friday tonight! It will be a time where we will discuss anything and everything you want to discuss. No topic is off-limits. All we need is you and what’s on your heart and mind.

The TD Pre-Party begins at 7:15 p.m.!

See you tonight!

TD Fri. – A Chance to Help Change a Young Girl’s Life

Hey TD!

Well, we’re down to the final month of the year. Can you believe it? This Friday at TD we’ll be sharing about how you at TD can play a real part in changing a young girl’s life. I hope you’re up for it.

We’ll also be working on our Romans 12 memorization, as well as discussing it, AND we will have our TD Pre-Party at 7:15 p.m.!

In the meanwhile, please be working on memorizing Romans 12, up to where we should be, below. It is a great passage to have sown in your mind and soul:

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

      3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

      9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

      14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Serve Our Society (SOS) Saturday!

You cannot lead well if no one wants to follow you … and no one wants to follow selfish people …

Hey TD!

Will you begin to take the steps towards learning how to become the future leaders our church and our society desperately need?

It begins by intentionally loving God and loving others, especially the “least of these.”

This Saturday, we have SOS Saturday and you will have a chance to begin taking those steps.

Care Center

Meet in front of the Hsiehs’ home at 9:30 a.m. You will return at noon.

Hillsides Children’s Services

Meet at the Hsiehs’ home at 12:30 p.m. We will return by 2:45 p.m.

Let’s get going, TD!

8 Worst Body Language Mistakes/Tips For Non-Verbal Communication Skills

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Hey TD!

Both the guys and the girls groups had tremendous times at T&T Night.  Not only did we discuss issues, but we began learning little nuances that go a long way towards not only fulfilling the bottom-line big-picture practical duties of becoming future men and women of God, but also the manner in which we learn to fulfill those roles.

At church, often times, we focus on what to say to people; we don’t spend enough time on how we say it … including our body language. While we want to make sure we don’t use learned external mannerisms as ways to portray ourselves or to manipulate how people think of us, we don’t want to go to the other extreme and not pay any attention to what our mannerisms may communicate to others.

When I saw this list from learnex, I immediately knew this would be useful for us at TD, as many of us can be … hmmm, let’s be honest … underwhelming … in the vibe we give and the impression we leave. Some of it may indeed be that we really don’t care much about the vibe we give people. For those of you who fall into that category, that needs to change. However, for others, it’s not that you don’t care; rather, it’s that you don’t know what needs to be adjusted or how to do it.

So, for the sake of continuing conversation with those around you – both outside and inside the church – check out these body language mistakes and see where you could improve (I’ve edited, added to, and adjusted some parts for conciseness and clarity):

Eye contact

The first one is avoiding eye contact.  When you are not looking into the person’s eye, it shows that you’re either nervous or not confident about yourself … and you’re being a little disrespectful. So you definitely don’t want to show these emotions. You’re probably just nervous, but making eye contact is extremely important.

Slouching

When you slouch in front of people while talking with them, it shows you’re not confident, have poor self-esteem, and don’t have the energy for them. It conveys that you’re bored talking with them.

Hand-shake

Make sure that you give a firm but warm handshake to the people that you meet because it’s a sign of  … of confidence and engagement. When you give a poor or weak handshake, it shows that you are least interested in shaking hands or dealing with that person. A very aggressive, very firm handshake is also not acceptable.

Arms folded

Folded arms can possibly show that you’re nervous, not confident, or uninterested. If you lean back with your arms folded, it could give off the impression that you are skeptical or wanting to keep your distance.

Frowning & Scowling

Frowning and scowling while conversing with someone may give the vibe that you have already jumped to a conclusion and made a negative judgment before knowing the context and considering all the facts. This could make someone more reticent to share openly and freely.

Invading Privacy & Space

There are people who love to invade others’ space. For example, you’re at your workplace and your co-worker comes in and just sticks around you way too much and you don’t want that. You want him or her to maintain distance. There are people who treat your possessions or your space as if it’s their own. They may be crossing personal boundaries. It’s important to maintain your boundaries when you are talking to a person or hanging around them. You want to maintain the appropriate space and distance commensurate with your relationship – not too close and not too far.

Fidgeting

Fidgeting with an item in your hand, with your hair, or constantly moving are signs of nervousness and being uncomfortable in the conversation, which can lead the one you’re speaking with to become uncomfortable conversing with you as well.

Glancing at the clock/checking your phone

Glancing at the clock or checking your phone during a conversation gives the impression that you can’t wait for this conversation to be over or that the person you’re speaking with isn’t very important to you. You may have legitimate reasons to look at your watch or the clock, or you to check your phone – maybe you have another appointment afterwards and you don’t want to be late, or you are expecting an important text; just make sure you communicate that with the person you’re with, so you don’t leave them wondering and feeling unimportant.


1 Cor. 10:31 implores us, “Whether then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This includes working on glorifying God in the way that you converse with others; loving others enough to work on communicating with them considerately and with care. It’s something for all of us to consider, including me. Let’s keep working on it! – Arthur

T&T Night on Friday! Info here

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Hey TD!

This Friday is T&T Night! For those of you who don’t know, T&T Night is the night where all the gals and all the guys meet together in our own gender groups to discuss and work through issues and topics relevant and pertaining to our genders.

THIS WOULD BE A GOOD NIGHT TO INVITE A FRIEND (perhaps an FFT friend), so they can interact with us and get to know us. They’ll also be able to see what a Christian approach to various issues looks and sounds like. Hopefully, they’ll be able to see that looking through God-centered biblical lenses is not only quite reasonable, but quite profitable as well. Obviously, the same goes for you TD’ers.

Info:

Girls – meet at 6 p.m. at church

Guys (potluck) – meet at 6:30 p.m. at Arthur’s home for Tri-Tip and more. Bring a main dish or a side dish.

Please RSVP with your small group leaders!

Food For Thought ’18 Photo Album, Message, and Offer

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Hey TD!

Click the link below to see the first FFT ’18 photo album!

Food For Thought ’18 Photo Album

Click on the right to listen to Daniel’s message: “Identified – FFT ’18” – Daniel (mp3 message)

As we’ve shared in TD, we want to follow-up on FFT and continue to help you reach your friends with the love and security of Christ. Just let one of your leaders know and we’ll get behind you and help you continue in conversations that count with your friends, maybe over boba and popcorn chicken? 🙂 (our treat!) You get your friends together and we’ll be there!