Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Technology Will Never Satisfy

Today, Apple hosted its annual iPhone event. Technology blogs have been buzzing for weeks with rumors as to what features, new products, and news would be announced.

As a geek and an Apple fan, I confess the air is always electric on days like today. But sadly, many view these live events not as product announcements, but as occasions of revelation—a day when Apple offers a new salve to sooth the itch of life. The truth is, technology will never satisfy. No matter how promising and brilliant, technology is not the savior and will disappoint.

Penned long before the Internet, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, Pascal explained why in Pascal’s Pensees (“thoughts”):

All men seek happiness… And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions… What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

Ultimate satisfaction and contentment is only found in God. It is alienation from our Creator, caused by our sin, that results in all discontentment, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. In being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, the problem at the core of every human being is solved. By God’s grace, contentment is possible in spite of circumstances, material possessions, or worldly accolades because we find our satisfaction in Him.

The Apostle Paul offers Christians of all ages comfort with the reminder that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

I recall being struck by the refreshing honesty of Mat Honan in his rather unconventional report (language warning) on CES 2012, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

In it, Honan describes his dissatisfaction with technology:

“There is a hole in my heart dug deep by advertising and envy and a desire to see a thing that is new and different and beautiful. A place within me that is empty, and that I want to fill up. The hole makes me think electronics can help. And of course, they can…At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.

Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.”

Technological innovation is exhausting when it is pursued in an attempt to satisfy—to fill the emptiness inside (as both Pascal and Mat Honan describe it). Innovation must go on because satisfaction is never found. We are left waiting for the next iPhone, for something newer and shinier, because it may be the answer to satisfy our craving hearts. This has turned technology into an idol and it will always fail to deliver on its promise to satisfy.

David Murray, the teacher in the series God’s Technology, often speaks of God as the “ultimate Inventor, Innovator, and Creator who allows men and women to discover His inventions, innovations, and creations…” Technological innovation should be pursued, not for the purpose of finding satisfaction, but to reflect Him, the original Innovator.

When technological innovation is viewed in this light, it ceases being an attempt to satisfy the unsatisfiable, and instead becomes what it is in reality: a blessing from the God who alone satisfies. From that vantage point, I watch events like today’s Apple announcement with expectation and a heart filled with thanksgiving to God.

What glitters today, fades tomorrow. Please pray for the millions of people who continually experience the dissatisfaction of every new gadget and iDevice. Pray that it would drive them to seek the One who ultimately and eternally satisfies—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Also published on Medium.