Also by this author: Following Jesus in a Digital Age
Published by B Books on August 30, 2022
We were told technology would make our lives easier and more convenient, but technology just seems to have made it more complicated and confusing. As Christians, what does our faith have to do with these pressing issues of life in a digital age?
In Following Jesus in a Digital Age, you will not only be challenged on how technology is shaping your walk with Christ, but you will also be equipped with biblical wisdom to navigate the most difficult aspects of our digital culture—including the rise of misinformation, conspiracy theories, social media, digital privacy, and polarization.
God calls his people to step into the challenges of the digital age from a place of hope and discernment, grounded in His Word. How will you follow Him in the digital age?
I have read a vast number of books about managing life in the digital world. Technology changes so quickly that there are always new things for authors to say, but all the same, I’ve gotten to the point where many of these books run together in my mind, covering similar things in much the same way. Despite that, Jason Thacker surprised me. This book stands out because of the author’s focus on the deeper personal motivations behind people’s destructive behaviors online. However, even though he aims for the human heart, he doesn’t just focus on the personal effects of device misuse. He takes a broader view, addressing issues like deep fakes, conspiracy theories, propaganda, privacy, algorithmic echo chambers, and polarization.
Thoughtful and Realistic
Thacker raises awareness of new dangers that are coming as technology continues to advance, but he also reminds us that every generational group feels unprepared to face new and different challenges, and that we can’t just give up and disengage from the world that God has called us to serve. I appreciated his realistic assessment of our challenges and his hope-filled encouragements, and he shares insights for how people can seek wisdom, truth, responsibility, and a healthy sense of identity in the midst of digital pressures that are shaping and discipling them in ways that are contrary to God’s design and human flourishing. He also challenges us to consider our own self-righteousness and the ease of decrying other people’s problematic ideas and behaviors while ignoring our own.
Thacker emphasizes the importance of Christian virtue online, challenging people to rise above hostile social norms. My favorite part of Following Jesus in a Digital Age is how he asks probing questions about different topics, getting people to consider their own motivations. For example, if someone always feels driven to be the expert on a given topic, he encourages them to evaluate why they care so much about seeming well-read, or if they ever take an opportunity to learn from others when it comes to things they are less knowledgeable about. The various questions are open-ended and broad enough that anyone can experience conviction and consider ways to change, even when they don’t relate to some of the sections.
Thacker provides historical and ethical context for each of the issues he brings up, and for the most part, he handles them in a well-balanced, fair way. However, I found a few of his implications frustrating. The biggest issue I have is how he handled the subject of distrusting the media. He focuses on how people reject news stories out of confirmation bias and tribal instincts, but never adequately acknowledges how much the media has failed people.
There are about two media outlets that I trust not to knowingly lie to me, and that’s it. That’s not because I’m seeking news that aligns with everything I think, but because I’ve put tremendous effort into evaluating news sources and following stories to see where other writers challenge someone’s deceptive omissions. There are individual journalists out there doing excellent jobs and aiming for high standards, but I cannot trust the media overall, and that’s not my fault.
Following Jesus in a Digital Age is a great resource for teenagers and adults who want to think deeply about societal issues and evaluate their own hearts and minds when it comes to technology. It would also make a good selection for a book club, provided that the members will be charitable and not devolve into petty debates. On that note, the book concludes with a short appendix for leaders, in which Thacker briefly addresses ways that pastors and other ministry leaders can set good examples for others and shape helpful discourse about technology within their contexts. This book is a helpful resource for people who are concerned about the social norms they see around them and what they recognize within their own hearts, and I definitely recommend it.