Far from helping us however, I believe technological advances put us at risk of isolation and loneliness.
Current technologies mean we can: work remotely from office locations, in isolation from our colleagues; shop online from our home, without needing to speak with any shop assistants; research any topic from our personal computers, without the need to consult librarians; pay bills online, without engaging any bank tellers, and catch up with family and friends in virtual communities like Facebook, without saying a word or meeting face to face.
God designed us to be in relationship with each other, but how can we develop and grow meaningful relationships when we increasingly have less opportunity to have personal contact with each other "eye-ball-to-eye-ball"? Relationships grow through time spent together, with shared conversation and the sharing of beliefs and experiences. Short-cuts won't achieve the same results.
My family and friends have sat beside me, listened to me and hugged me at difficult times in my life. An emotive icon on Facebook just wouldn't have comforted me in the same! Nothing can replace time spent together face to face. Isn't it ironic that the world-wide population has experienced continuous growth since the end of the Black Death and yet the proportion of people living alone has doubled since the seventies?
I can't help but feel we are becoming a lonelier more isolated community.
I have heard people comment on the number of friends they have on Facebook, with some boasting hundreds. Is that the current measure for friendship? We certainly don't expect much of each other if it is. Would Jesus' have had quite as much impact if he spoke to people via the internet or email? Quality always beats quantity!
It would be too simplistic to suggest technology should be avoided and that we should revert to historical methods of communicating and existing. Instead, I advocate for intelligent adoption of any technology where consideration is given to long term impact of our choices.
I also recognise that for many people this modern technology provides an alternative "eye-ball-to-eye-ball" in that you can communicate with family members who are long distances apart and even overseas. Video Skype is available to everyone and many grand-parents use it to communicate regularly with their grand-children.
As new technologies are released into the marketplace, consistently with the purpose of increasing efficiencies in our life. I just pray we don't compromise the opportunity of being in relationship with each other as a consequence of the technology we use otherwise, on the most part we may just have a lonely future ahead.