Technology is a Yellow Light

Discerning the Lights

The green light on a traffic signal always means “go” while the red light always means “stop.”

The yellow light, however, isn’t so simple. Sometimes you need to slow down and stop, other times it’s best to continue with your current speed, and still other times you might need to speed up a bit to be safe.

Knowing the difference requires discernment.

When it comes to technology, it would be nice if every device could be neatly classified into “green” (you should use it without further thought) or “red” (never, ever use it) categories, but in reality technology is almost always a yellow light requiring careful and thoughtful discernment.

Being the Messenger

Being discerning about technology means that one must understand both the positive benefits a technology can bring as well as the negative tradeoffs that come with it. Without accurate knowledge of both, it’s easy to make bad decisions.

The trick to talking about all of this is that most people prefer red and green lights over yellow ones. When one speaks to techno-enthusiasts about negatives, they don’t typically enjoy it. Conversely, when one speaks to techno-curmudgeons, they have trouble agreeing that new technology can be beneficial.

Last week, I sent an article to CT that attempted to make the argument that, for all the benefits that Facebook, Twitter, and blogging bring us, they also bring with them negatives when it comes to theological debate. If you read the article you might notice that I didn’t spend much time on the, “for all the benefits,” part, and I got reamed in the comments for it. Perhaps I should have showed more discernment in how I talked about technological discernment!

And yet, talk about it we must. Technology is not going anywhere, and its speed, power, and presence in our lives will only continue to grow.

There are no easy red or green answers.

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

6 thoughts on “Technology is a Yellow Light”

  1. Your hyperlink connected to “negatives when it comes to theological debate” is a dead-end. It gives you a 404 error message.

  2. Great thoughts John. I definitely fall under the tech enthusiast category. I’m meeting with my senior pastor tomorrow afternoon who does not fall in the same category. The meeting is about his online presence. :)

  3. So… cultural background question? In the UK, the amber light means stop. If you think the amber light means go, you fail your driving test and the police take your car away.

    What’s this yellow light business, then?

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