technology and the collective

Nate and Angela just visited and stayed with us last night, on their way home to St. Louis. The last time we saw them was over two years ago when we stayed with them in DC, on our walk from Boston to Florida. Now they have a son, John Paul (who was in a cute little monkey suit the whole time). Good to see them again.

We talked about a lot of things, but I wanted to remember a thought from one conversation, about the negative effects of technology. I agreed that our mechanized and technologically-driven society tends to dehumanize us and detach us from the natural way of life God created us for. And much of our technological equipment even seems to push us further from each other and from God. But I've heard many people blame this on technology itself, as if it is somehow inherently evil, and I don't agree with that. I think the problem is deeper.

I've written much about the idolatry of the social collective, how we organize and institutionalize gathered human beings to form "We, the People," a power much greater than any one person, a terrible substitute for the Body of Christ. I think our technology, as it has developed, has become a clear reflection of the evils of the social collective. No advanced technology can develop apart from this organization of people, and it necessarily reflects the values of the group. Technological developments have to be funded and so are driven by money and the purposes of the group, because what serves them well is what sells. Technology doesn't drive itself, though it seems to (yes, I've read Ellul's book). And it doesn't drive people. People are driven by the power of the collective, driven to develop technology in a certain direction and driven to use it and serve it—or be cut off from the group, the source of life.