Ever notice how in our culture we’re so aware and focused on whatever is next? What is current quickly falls away for whatever the next big thing is. The next big TV at a great price changes every 2 months. The next best phone comes out every 6 months. The next must-see movie comes out seemingly every weekend.
In our culture it’s never enough to just have a great thing, you must have the next big thing. Otherwise you’re just obsolete.
The next big thing always guarantees us more happiness, more efficiency, and more friends. When people see us with the next big thing they’ll begin to realize how forward thinking we are, and they’ll respect us for it. Or so we think.
I watched a TED talk from the one of the great thinkers of our time, Malcolm Gladwell. His first TED talk several years ago is one of the most viewed TED talks ever. In this short talk he discusses bombs, culture, and the next big thing. I found it all very intriguing as it relates to our culture.
As you could tell, Gladwell’s talk was about wars, bombs, and the Norden bomb-sight, but it wasn’t really about any of those things.
“This is the problem with our infatuation over the things we make: We think the things we make can solve our problems.”
I say his talk was about the Norden bomb-sight, but really it wasn’t, because the talk was really about how we view the next big thing as our next step toward a better, more fulfilling life. And the problem in that is that life never got more or less fulfilling through a thing. I might have become more efficient or been able to stay in contact with more people or been able to stay more connected to the global world or been able to create wonderful things on my own through all these next big things, but none of them ever helped me have a truly better and more fulfilling life. In fact, many of these things have probably pushed me away from a more fulfilling life.
When it comes to the next big thing, we always look at and discuss all the new things we’ll be able to do and much more efficiently we’ll be able to live our lives, but we rarely (maybe never) evaluate all we’re going to give up in order to be slave to this next big thing. While I’m not advocating for never changing or adapting, our lives and our churches could sure stand for some contentment found not in things but in God and His goodness to us.
There’s always a catch when it comes to the next big thing. Don’t fall in the trap.
(For a great take on this very subject check out John Dyer’s book From the Garden to the City. John has a good understanding of how technology might not be as neutral to us as we often assume.)