Ethos Blog

Shopping Cart


Love and Technology

Thursday, 23 March 2023  | Daniel Sih

I remember the day we first met.

It was Christmas time, and we found ourselves sitting side by side on a bench seat, next to a busker playing the violin. She didn’t say much at first, just polite conversation, yet the more we interacted, the more I liked her. I’d be lying if I told you we took things slowly. She was smart, creative and captivating. She took my mobile number, and the rest is, well, history.

That was more than a decade ago. Since then, we’ve laughed and cried, argued and made up. We don’t always agree with one another, but I can’t image my life without her.

I often wonder about that time we first met – was it love at first sight? Probably not. Yet from the moment I unwrapped her immaculately designed packaging and caressed her embossed Apple logo, I knew she would change my life forever.

A love relationship

Although tongue in cheek, I really do remember the first time I unwrapped my first iPhone. I signed up for a twenty-four-month contract, sat down on that bench amid the hustle and bustle of people, and carefully unwrapped my new gadget. It didn’t feel like a relationship back then, but it does now. And I really cannot imagine my life without it.

In the digital age, love and technology are intertwined. For many of us, engaging in the online world can feel personal, individual and connected – like a relationship. We may not ‘fall in love’ with our phones in a literal sense, but we do adore what they allow us to do. We are emotional beings, moved by feelings, not just reasoning. This is why so many of us ‘love’ our screens. They enable us to pursue our passions and desires, such as our hunger for success, popularity, security, wealth, entertainment or achievement. In this way, love and screens go hand in hand. We can love through our screens and adore through our devices. No wonder it is hard to unplug – because unplugging is emotional. It requires that we break our digital attachments, for a time, to examine who and what we truly love.

Eyes that cannot see

To explore our emotions further, let’s go back in time. Imagine that we are in ancient Mesopotamia around 900 BC. A man cuts down a tree from the forest. He uses handmade tools to carve a wooden statue for himself in the shape of a bird, goat or fish. He places it in his hut, welcoming his new god with incense and vows. He does this in the hope that his family will receive peace, wealth and blessing from the gods.

After a time, this object is no longer inanimate but alive. The man gives honour to his artwork. He attributes meaning and identity to it. He bows down and makes this wood his idol. As enlightened twenty-first-century citizens, we may observe this curious ritual and think, ‘Mate, that’s not a god. That’s a piece of wood you carved out of a tree!’ And although this may be accurate, the primitive man is closed to such rationale. He cannot hear our opinion, see our perspective or consider our point of view because his creation has become his god. To this man and his household, this statue is now a living reality and promises to fulfill his greater needs. It is the filter through which he views reality. And the more he adores his handiwork, the more he begins to mirror the very thing he worships.

This is the story behind Psalm 115, an ancient Hebrew poem that shines light on our tendency to adore our own creations:

Why do the nations say,
‘Where is their God?’

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.

They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.

They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk,

nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

For context, this sacred poem is recited by Jews and Christians as an affirmation of monotheism, the belief in a singular God. Beyond this, however, the psalmist is providing a cogent explanation of the human condition, which has particular relevance in the digital age. We are not as modern as we might like to assume – demonstrated by my translation of this poem:

Our idols are lithium, cobalt, glass,

made by human hands.

We have cameras, but cannot see.

Siri, but cannot speak.

We have touchscreens, but cannot feel.

5G mobility, but cannot walk.

Those who make them will be like them,

and so will all who trust in them.

Few of us worship idols made of wood anymore, but let’s not be fooled – the desire to adore is very much present today. Like our Mesopotamian man, we take something useful, give it meaning and elevate it to the heavens. We can pour in our loves and our longings, dreams and desires, giving heartfelt attention to the objects of our affection. As we do so, it is possible to find ourselves closing our eyes, our minds and our hearts to alternative perspectives. We can struggle to recognise the cult-like devotion in our own rituals. Are we really so advanced? Are we really so logical? Are we really beyond what the ancients called ‘idol worship’ in the digital age? Or might it be that the created things we love so deeply – the objects that capture our affection and shape our heart, head and habits – are simply different than those worshipped by this Mesopotamian man?


Daniel Sih is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and the founder of Spacemakers®, a productivity group for busy leaders. His first book, Spacemaker: How to Unplug, Unwind and Think Clearly in the Digital Age, won an Australian Business Book Award in 2021 and an Axiom Business Book Award (USA) in 2023, and was shortlisted for the 2022 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award. Daniel is the creator of Email Ninja, List Assassin and Priority Samurai training, with more than 20,000 students online and offline. Daniel has worked as a church pastor and speaks at schools, churches and community groups about how to raise tech-healthy children. Located in Hobart, Daniel is married with three kids and loves mountain bike riding in the Tassie bush.


This is an excerpt from Spacemaker (Edinburgh: 100 Movements Publishing, 2021), ch.6: Love. You can read more about the book or order your copy here.


Image credits

Front cover of Spacemaker.

Man and cellphone by Derick Anies at Unsplash.

Got something to add?

  • Your Comment


Online Resources

subscribe to engage.mail

follow us

Latest Articles