Well, a new iPhone is coming and people apparently have nothing better to do with their lives than wait for it. At first I thought it was an expression of youthful silliness, like when I lined up, as a very young man, overnight for concert tickets. But the more I learn, the more I think is involved. Apparently the new iPhone is all about “augmented reality.” For the uninitiated, such as myself, that is where the phone interacts directly with pictures the phone is taking. So, say with navigation, you hold the phone up and you see the street you are on through the phones camera with an arrow on it where to go.
No longer content to provide us with an alternate world, our devices are now going to be the lens through which we see the real world.
That is a truly frightening amount of power. Oh sure, the story I linked to is all about helpful stuff like navigation, or imagining what furniture looks like in a room, or silly stuff like physically interactive games, but we are talking about the power to actually shape how someone sees the world. Combining this tech with the seemingly failed idea of “Google Glass” and one now actually has a computing device between themselves and reality at all times, controlling how we see what we see. If that does not send a bit of a shiver down your spine then you have not read enough Orwell, or Lewis, or Huxley.
Much of the division we see in the country is people reacting to virtual depictions of reality that are exaggerated and even distorted. What happens when the depictions are not virtual but filtering? What happens when people can choose metaphorical “rose colored glasses” that mean they will only see things as they want to see things? When does this change from technology to a drug?
The question is how does Christianity respond to such developments? Christianity is all about clear vision:
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. [emphasis added]
But that means that somehow we have to reach the person behind the tech filter. It will not be enough to try and shape the filter to our ends, that is less than God promises. We have to reach the person and allow them to see without the filter.
I think the drug analogy holds here, we reach them as we reach the addict. But I am frightened of thinking about the number of people that will have to “hit bottom” with this tech and what that means for the whole.