Sometimes I compare technology to a runaway train. We get on the train and just let it take us wherever it wants to go. Technology has such momentum and power and is so pervasive that we feel helpless in its onslaught. A thoughtful Christian must learn to take control of their technological life and manage it with intentionality. Below, you will find some common internet and digital technologies and ways that I have found to manage them and then benefit from them, even spiritually.
Browser: I use Google Chrome for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to type web searches in the URL box and not in a separate Google search engine box. This saves time. Secondly, you can add apps to your Google Chrome page much like you would your smart phone. I have added the Bible app in order to get easy access to scriptures without having to find a website that includes scripture.
Twitter/Facebook : By using the Tweetdeck Chrome and iPhone app, I can see my three Twitter accounts and my two Facebook accounts all in one place. I don’t have to go to three or four different places. Tweetdeck also allows me to post to all of these social media locations from one location.
Facebook: I have a filter in my Gmail account that sends all Facebook correspondence to a separate folder in my email. In other words, I don’t have an endless stream of Facebook activity in my regular email list and I can get to the Facebook messages and activity at my choosing.
Email: I try to only check email twice a day. I am one of those people who constantly hit refresh to see if I have any new email. This can become an incredible distraction and time drain. By only checking email twice a day, I let things build up in my account and tackle several emails in one sitting.
Blogs: I think the Christian church has really benefited from blogging. Obviously, or I wouldn’t be spending time writing this blog. But, it can be a real bear tracking down new post and activity across our favorite Christian blogs. I use two tools in order to manage my blog feeds. First, I use Google Reader as my blog reader. I subscribe to the RSS feed for my favorite blogs and their new content goes directly to my Google Reader where I can read all of my favorites in one spot. In order to handle the reading and viewing of these blogs more efficiently, I have started using Feedly, which takes the Google Reader content and presents it in a more magazine web page style.
Cell Phone: Someone else will have to address the tools and tricks to manage cell phone use and get something redeeming out of it. I have just recently obtained my first personal cell phone.
TV: Take control of your television viewing and get more redeeming quality from what you watch by doing two things. First, get a Netflix account that also includes Netflix Instant so that you can watch movies through the web. Second, run your Netflix through your Wii or purchase a Roku box that will play Netflix items through your TV. This, of course, gives you access to more popular choices, including television shows, but it also gives you access to documentaries and obscure films that celebrate life and address spiritual issues. Roku gives you access to hundreds of developed “channels” including several from Christian resources and churches. I can access Vimeo and YouTube through our Roku and watch sermons, conference proceedings, and clips from my favorite preachers and teachers. This is a favorite getting-ready-for-work activity of mine.
Podcasts: Listen to sermons and Christian podcasts through your MP3 player by finding them on the web or through iTunes. My morning commute is often taken up by these podcasts.