It’s a product of the fallen nature of man:
Anything and everything that was created for good, from medicine to technology, will eventually be corrupted for ill purposes.
A recent case in point: A new “video conferencing” feature made exclusively for Apple’s iPhone. It’s called FaceTime. Here is how the company is promoting it:
People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality. With the tap of a button, you can wave hello to your kids, share a smile from across the globe, or watch your best friend laugh at your stories — iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi. No other phone makes staying in touch this much fun.
Sounds innocent and heartwarming, yes?
Not so fast.
Sadly, the “adult entertainment” industry has now seized on the technology. According to an Associated Press story:
In at least five cities, Craigslist ads seek models specifically for video sex chat on FaceTime. Many of the ads even offer to throw in a free iPhone 4 for the new employees.
Back in April, an email that was attributed (but not confirmed) to Apple’s Founder and CEO Steve Jobs suggested that the company had a “moral responsibility” to prohibit the approval of pornographic applications for its iPhone. Good for Mr. Jobs. As I mentioned yesterday, wholesomeness in business is not only a good thing, but something that is also good for business!
But in this instance, can Apple actually do anything to prevent pornographers from corrupting the technology they intended for positive use?
The short answer is no – not unless they banned video conferencing altogether.
Again, from the Associated Press:
Just as Apple can’t control whom iPhone users call, the company will have a hard time dictating how FaceTime is used. Internet experts say customers will understand that Apple cannot control what goes on in private video chats.
“Apple can’t be seen as responsible any more than makers of routers or hardware are responsible for the content you are looking at,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
As I mentioned above, history tells us this dilemma is not a new one. The players and the subjects may change, but succumbing to the temptation to ruin a good thing has not. In fact, it’s a trend as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise.
Take GPS. It’s a marvelous technology – but terrorists, criminals and predators regularly use it to facilitate killing, exploitation and stealing. The same is true with drugs that help to ease pain and suffering or medicine that’s been created to help heal — but is also used by some to hurt and cause harm. Did you know that the wicked illegal drug known as “Ecstasy” was a byproduct of a drug that was created to help stop abnormal bleeding?
Dr. Gerhard Schrader was a German chemist tasked with coming up with a new insecticide to help increase crop production. He accidentally discovered nerve agents like Sarin gas.
Good intentions. Good inventions. But thanks to the irresponsibility and sinful nature of man, even the best thing can be used for the worst possible purpose.
The inevitability of the abuse and corruption of otherwise positive inventions leaves Christians in something of a quandary.
How do we handle or reconcile our use of a product or technology that is used for both good and evil?
Do we ban, boycott, badger or bully the CEOs of the companies in question? Do we pack up and drop out of society?
As for me, it’s always been a matter of prayer and balance, a “live in the world but not of the world” equation and mentality.
I can rest in the sentiments expressed by the Old Testament patriarch Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery. Do you remember what he told them?
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…”
God is neither rocked nor worried by that which often burdens us. He knows of each hair on our head.
Think about it. If the only perfect man to ever walk the earth was executed for a “crime” He didn’t commit, why should we be surprised that some good things of that same earth are used for ill purposes?
Could it be that we’re called to redeem – not reject – these things which cause such angst?