Supplement or Substitute?

(This is a repost from I’m switching to this site and thought I’d bring some posts over with me.)

Is technology ridding the need for real books and real Bibles, paper, pens, pencils? There have been a lot of articles and books and things written about the impact technology is having on the culture and the generation coming up, but I just want to share some personal insight into this debate. This is not scientifically proven or research-based, but simple observation from my own life.

Technology is amazing. It enhances so many areas of life from this computer I’m typing on, to high speed internet available wirelessly basically anywhere you go, to laser eye surgery, life-saving surgeries done with the most advanced technology available saving more lives than ever before, to technology involved in finding a huge underwater reservoir in Kenya that will be able to sustain the nation with enough fresh water for many years to come. These are all great things. Technology has made life easier in a lot of ways, but it also brings obstacles.

One of the advances in technology that has been sweeping the world is the Bible app and book apps. Whatever app of choice you have, more and more people are reading on iPads, Nooks, Kindles, and many other tablets and cell phones rather than picking up real books and reading them. More people are taking notes and sending texts on a device rather than sending letters or writing by hand. Not that these are bad; they are simply different.

In my own experience, I have begun to miss the feel of the book in my hand. I am a reader to the core. I enjoy reading and love stories. As a kid, I grew up with tangible books in my hands. As I’ve gotten older, those books have transformed into an iPad where I store many books that I can read when I want at a moments notice without having to haul a bag around laden with books I may want or need. However, this convenience of having a lot of books all in one place and being able to access them all whenever I feel like it has had some drawbacks and consequences.

When you have a real book in your hand, you can feel it, smell it, get into it a little bit more. There are less distractions because alerts aren’t popping up all around that someone just sent you a text or messaged you on Facebook. But with a real book you can flip back and forth between chapters to look at something maybe you’ve forgotten. You can underline and highlight any word or phrase. You can write in the margin and when you’re done you can share it with a friend.

I was at the church the other day and we were having a meeting. I had left my Bible in my office, but the pastor asked us to get our Bible’s out. I had my phone, so I opened my Bible app and got ready. He asked us to turn to one passage, put our finger in it, and then flip to the next passage. I’m thinking, “Uh oh. I can’t do that.” We had a nice laugh about it in the office, but it got me thinking. It’s a good thing that I had strong service in the office or I would’ve been far behind searching for the multiple passages. You see, the actual tangible copy of the Bible would have enabled me to put my finger in one place, go to the other, mark it with a pen or piece of paper, underline or circle a word or phrase, and get to know the text of the Bible altogether better as a whole.

These are some random tangents all thrown into one, but I think I’ve come to the conclusion that technology can be nice, but sometimes I prefer no technology. I prefer the book in my hand, ready to turn anywhere at a moments notice, not having to wait on the WiFi or cell service to catch up to my searching.

Technology can certainly supplement our Bible reading and time spent in books and the Word because we can take it with us wherever we go. However, technology should never substitute for the real thing. Never forget what it was like to hold a book in your hands or search for something by hand rather than jumping to Google to figure it out. Take the time to slow down, think for yourself, and do things by hand. It may take more time, but it’ll be a positive impact in your life.

For you, is technology a supplement or a substitute for the real thing?



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