When we pursue advancements through technology we surrender something in the process. It’s obvious that a device such as the iPhone is more than just a communication tool. It is a culture-shaping tool that can easily master its user if not used carefully and reflectively. It has the power to disconnect and isolate as much as its power to connect.EXACTLY. I have been thinking this thought for ages, but in an inarticulate way--like a cloud of feeling-droplets condensed around motes of ideas. Every time I attempted to express it (especially in the face of O.'s spiffy smart phone), I ended up sounding like a Luddite. Perhaps I am a Luddite--but I don't think so. I think I just end up overstating my case when it seems like the other party, or perhaps the whole world around me, is rushing headlong into a tech-enabled dystopia. Thank God for other people's writings that say what I want to say but can't!
Another comment as counterpoint: I usually speak in technology's defense when I hear people saying things like "Facebook prevents people from having in-person interactions" and "You can't have a meaningful conversation over IM." I don't think those statements are true--not because I think Facebook and other tech-enabled communicational media don't have inherent limitations (on the contrary, they absolutely are limited) or that they are inherently good. Rather, it's because I think all the agency still resides with us, the users and abusers of technology. Technology doesn't create in us character-traits ex nihilo: it only exposes and fertilizes what was already there.*
(In that sense, technology is like suffering. It is a test of sorts. Suffering exposes weaknesses in my character, and seems to be bringing them into existence. In reality, those problematic beliefs were there in me all along, and it's not the fault of my circumstance (suffering, technology) that I am full of fears and doubts and lies (or shallow communication, self-absorption, etc), but the fault of the sin in me. I should give thanks for the light that comes through the cracks made by the blows of suffering, instead of screwing up all my energy into experiencing the pain.)
*Not to imply that technology is crap. :P