Digitally Remastered by Guy Brandon
Practical book which attempts to address the issues that flow from the most significant invention of our age
By Guy Brandon
Muddy Pearl, Edinburgh
Reviewed by Martin Poole
A recurring definition that Guy Brandon gives to the culture of today is Always On. These two words encompass the effect of the internet on a huge majority of today’s citizens of the world. For many work tends “to follow us around”, and no longer has defined hours as we receive our portion of the two hundred billion emails generated each day. We are told that the average user checks his/her smartphone 150 times a day and spends upwards of three hours using it.
Brandon admits that since acquiring his smartphone in 2012 (book published in 2016) it has barely been unplugged for more than a few hours at best. The communications revolution impacts all generations with 80 per cent of children today (aged ten to 12) having social media accounts.
Likening the birth of the internet to the discovery of the printing press in the 15th century, or even giving us a “pre Babel world”, Brandon seeks to steer the reader through both the huge positives and pitfalls of being Always On. His overriding fear is that unthinkingly the Christian will cease to be master of their device and become enslaved by it. This is far greater than just turning up at the meal table texting and emailing (although that would be an early symptom).
The greater danger is to become a member of “iWorld” where everything is centred around self – “click and collect” whatever you want. This can extend to theft as we are told that even Hillsong the Australian mega church has lobbied the Australian Government to help them stop people (Christians?) from copying their material – some of the most pirated in the country. Other major pitfalls are on online gambling and the availability of pornography.
However, it would be wrong to suggest that Brandon sees only the negatives. He admits that his life would be very different without connectedness. Time saved in gathering information, in contacting people, in enjoying the benefits of social media, in the speed of purchase, booking – these are huge positives.
As a result he peppers his appraisal of our digital age with helpful Bible references, and concludes each chapter with practical steps to mitigate the downsides (including an online detox for Lent)
I commend this practical book for its attempt to address the issues that flow from the most significant invention of our age.
The Revd Martin Poole is a retired Baptist minister having served churches in Penarth, Godalming and Eastleigh