Meaninglessness, Technological Systems and the Need of Enchantment
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
Over the past hundred years, Western society has increasingly lost its way as it has plunged deeper and deeper into the swamp of meaninglessness. We have become casualties of the grand disease of the technological society, in which we live, namely, meaninglessness. Technological progress resulted in the dehumanisation of humanity. The process of dehumanisation may have been limited if human beings had been more critical of and less subservient to technology and its systems. Consequently, many people find it hard to adapt to what Jacques Ellul calls, “the inhuman rhythm of modern life with its emphasis on specialisation”, efficiency and built-in redundancy.
Consequently, many are left struggling to find employment often lapsing into depression as they become aware of their own seemingly insignificance. Others are caught up into a system that promises much, but gives little that is lasting in return except an endless cycle of pointless pleasure and a constant desire for consumption. Almost everything in a technological society focuses on means; all aims and purposes are forgotten under the continual urge for progress with technology and efficiency becoming an end in itself.
Everyone is caught up in the system, and few know where they are going. So human beings become just another means in the technological cycle. When we cease to be technologically useful, we are discarded and thrown onto the scrapheap of life. Similarly, we end up going nowhere at greater and greater speed. We have been sold the illusion of freedom, choice and individuality. Thus, we have become slaves to an all-encompassing system, which shapes us and conforms us into its image and usefulness.
Many have inadvertently looked to technology for hope to get us out the mess created by technology. However, it is false hope. Hope is ultimately found in the Creator, and in the purposes for which we were created. It is not that technology brings no benefits it as many. However, it is when technology and the system it encourages are uncritically accepted that it becomes an end in itself that the problems arise. The result is not only dehumanisation but also disenchantment in a world that has been stripped of meaning and mystery. Today’s world is in desperate need of mystery and of the enchantment that originates from a deep and meaningful encounter with the living God. Only, such an encounter can move us beyond the disfigurement and despair created by technology and its systems. It does so, by reorientating us around the kingdom of God in all its mystery and enchantment.