The Theology of Tech Fanboyism

I admit I’m excited for this, but that doesn’t make me better than PS4 fans

It is truly amazing how judgmental and angry people can be. I’m not just talking about big world-changing questions, the kind of questions I wrestle with a lot as a theologian. I’m also a tech guy, and the attacks over which technology people chose can often be about as bad as theological attacks (still a notch below political attacks).

I’ve seen it in lots of arenas (Xbox One or PS4? Mac or PC?), but mobile platforms may get the most vicious; one tech writer/podcaster I follow, Ashley Esqueda, has often talked about the kinds of responses she has gotten. She started out as an Android user and now uses both primarily iOS with some Android use as well. When she switched, she got literally hundreds of death threats. When she writes about iOS and gives any positive feedback whatsoever, she gets hatred and threats from Android user; when she writes about Android and gives any positive feedback whatsoever, she gets hatred and threats from iOS users. At this point I have to ask: what is wrong with you that you threaten somebody’s life because they like a different piece of technology than you do?

It’s bad enough when we eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, actively judging others as inferior, when there is some real impact on the world (ethical decisions, theological decisions, political decisions). That is already exhibiting the original sin and those are the times that are supposedly justifiable. Religion often even feeds into and encourages these types of judgmentalism and hatred, and while I will call it out as Jesus did, I also can at least understand how to got to that point.

But it is hard not to just laugh at the ridiculousness of the same kind of judgmentalism over your favourite technology. It doesn’t even make sense! Suppose everybody did use your favourite platform: there would be no competition and therefore no innovation in order to emerge as the best. That’s pretty much what happened to my mobile platform of choice, BlackBerry, comfortable in their dominance when iOS and Android came along. Then it took them years to start innovating again because they initially didn’t take the competition seriously. In other words, if you want your platform to do well, you also need your competition to do well.

Same principle is true for theology and pretty much any other area of life, of course: we don’t get far without iron sharpening iron.

That’s how ingrained in humanity this original sin is. Even when it is completely irrational, even when it wouldn’t even be in our or anybody else’s best interests, we still have the urge to hate and demean people who are different than us. And this definitely applies to me, too, particularly if somebody initiates an ill-informed attack on one of my platforms of choice (BlackBerry, Windows/Xbox) even though in theory I’m quite happy to say that what’s best for me may not be best for you. When I catch myself falling into it, I feel like Paul in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.”

So what’s the solution? Genuinely listen to people who think differently. Think differently in their theology. Think differently in their ethics. Think differently in their politics. And yes, even those who think differently about their favourite technology. I find it helpful to loosely follow what is going on in the worlds of Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac, PS4, etc., although I do try to stick to those commentators who don’t attack the others (the Mobile Nations network, for example). I appreciate that I have friends with different platforms and I’ll even try out others when I can in stores. I know not everybody invests time in keeping up with technology, or theology for that matter, but I also would hope that would mean you aren’t spending a lot of time attacking those who think differently. It doesn’t sound that hard but it is because we are constantly finding our own worth in what we think about God, or politics, or ethics, or even what technology we use, rather than in Jesus. As Christians, we should be freed from this idolatrous tribalism, no matter how certain we are that we really are right.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.

  • Juan Carlos Torres

    Death threats for liking both Android and iOS?
    Wow.
    That is so insane!
    But I’m not surprised.

    Great post on your two main interests: theology and technology.