The mass of digital technology has been recognized as a dehumanizing factor in modern society. Being on the verge of artificial intelligence, we stand on the edge of a wedge whose downslope is the loss of the most humanizing element – the soul. Our soul is what makes us God-like since we are “made in the image of God.” We are God-like because our destiny is to become divine in the Kingdom. It is the ability to choose between good and evil, for we are not robots. But, computers, smart cell phones, iPad and so on remove us from each other.
When direct human communication is lost through digitized media, we interact with the non-human, with technology.
Digital communication lets us forget that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. We begin communicating whatever comes into our heads without second thought. Terrible things, words, and images are sometimes posted online that are destructive, evil. This wouldn’t happen in a face-to-face conversation. In Freudian terms, we act out of our id instead of the superego. In Jungian terms, we don’t filter our shadow or undeveloped self. The greatest destruction of human relationships lately is through so-called conspiracy theories on the web. I know highly intelligent people who succumb to misinformation. Somehow, and I don’t really understand why, what is published on the internet is of absolute authority to certain individuals. It’s like they’ve lost their souls because they are making a god out of the virtual world of the computer. This succumbing to digital reality dehumanizes us when we no longer use the divine element of reason and common sense to the detriment of others and ourselves.
Abraham Heschel wrote that “man is always in danger of forgetting his humanity.” L.M. Sacasas, executive director of the Christian Study Centre, interprets this to mean a loss of humanity, that is, we choose to lose our freedom and act like instinctual animals. It’s not that the technology is evil, but the intent of the user is. Don’t get me wrong, the virtual world can also be used for good. Five years-ago CMIC decided to go digital is a big way. We had a website and were on social media, but decided to upgrade it – computers, servers, software, and database. It made a notable change for the better. Our magazine is digital, donations are increasing, communication through email is lowering mailing costs, analytical data is showing patterns and trends we haven’t seen before, we can send and receive high resolution photographs, etc.
Used for good or evil, digital technology is here to stay. It is important to affirm our humanity in a technologically advanced world. Sacasas reminds us to be moral agents, that our primary purpose is to love. In love, shouldn’t we keep what is digital in proper perspective?