2005 © Daniela Spyropoulos. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman describes our seemingly hedonistic age as “The age of melancholy” and blames the pervasive sadness on technology. He is quoted in this New Scientist article by Amichai-Hamburger (seriously!) which shares Goleman’s view of technological oppression and and proposes the solution of self-determination theory (SDT). SDT “identifies three vital elements of healthy personal development and functioning which can be used to calibrate our relationship with technology.”
The first is autonomy – the feeling that our activities are self-chosen and self-endorsed. When we feel in control, we are able to organise our priorities and place effective boundaries around them.
We also need a sense of competence, a belief that our actions are effective…knowing which activities are important to us and carrying them out in the most effectual way possible, making use of technology where applicable.
The other factor is relatedness: our need to feel close to other people. Technology is a threat to this…Psychologists have found that the pivotal difference between happy and unhappy people is the presence or absence of rich and satisfying social relationships. Spending meaningful time with friends, family and partners is necessary for happiness.
It’s fascinating to observe the best attempts of the best minds to analyze the fundamental unhappiness of the human race and come up with their own Gospel – autonomy, competence, and relatedness – which may give some limited temporary happiness. However the true Gospel diagnoses a deeper problem – not technology but sin. And it proposes quite different solutions. Instead of autonomy, it is dependence on Christ. Instead of competence, it is admitting our weakness and doing all in Christ’s strength. Instead of relatedness to people, it is relationship to God through Jesus Christ.
But to return to the original question, I do believe that technology has a role in causing some depression. Look at this scary infographic for how much data is passing through our minds each day. There is no way the human mind can take this amount of stimulation without wearing down and running out of gas eventually. We need to build quiet time into our day to allow our minds time to rest and renew. We also need to remember that Elijah heard the Lord’s voice not in the midst of sensational stimulation but in the quiet stillness.