Monday, September 30, 2013

Farewell, Farewell! (An Ode to My Smartphone)

Please note that I am not bashing anyone that uses smartphones, nor am I calling for them to be banished from the lives of Christians. That being said...

If you know me, you know that I am a bit of a geek. Video games, technology, computers, hardware and software. You name it, chances are I either know about it or am actively participating in it. When we got our first iPhones I loved it, but hated being locked into it's ecosystem. When we switched to Android, I loved it, immediately customized everything about it, and loved it even more.

Then we got rid of them.


Well, my wife dropped her's in water, where it immediately went berserk and died (it's funnier if you know the whole story, but that's not for here). We needed to get her something fast, still had over a year to go on our contract, and had no insurance, so I went on Craigslist, found a guy selling basic texting phones for cheap, and we got her one of those (an LG Cosmos 2, if you must know).

Her phone.

We came to find out during our discussions at this time that we had both been considering getting rid of our phones and switching to something simpler. What we had recognized was that they were consuming more and more of our lives, and we didn't like that very much.

In particular, one video I saw linked on Facebook really slapped me across the face. I had recognized my own reliance and addiction to my phone growing, but this pretty much sealed the deal for me. Check it out:

That was me. Not always, not every single moment, but more and more I was living through the 4" screen of my Samsung Galaxy. Even when I thought I was "in the moment," I wasn't. I was busy getting the right angle for a picture, or trying to get the video recorded just right. I wasn't there, I was in a phone.

Any question? Phone. Any ding? Phone. Any flashing light? Phone. No matter what was going on, I would check my phone. Even on vacation, with my family there, I looked around and we were all on our phones. It was freaky. I, of course, ignored it 'cause, you know, Candy Crush (or something similar). So I did some research on the kind of phone I would want, went on Ebay, and plopped down $35 for an LG enV3.
Mine's a manly dark blue.

I've done a lot of reading since then about other people who have dumped their phones for similar reasons. It always ends with something along the lines of "this is what I chose to do, make your own path."

I disagree with that kind of statement. Again, I am not advocating for everyone to chunk their smartphones. I do, however, believe that if we are going to be a holy people of God, that we had better ask and answer some of the tough questions about how we use the tools that God allows us to have, and take the steps needed to fix the problems we find.

I suggest starting with the 5 following steps:
1. Track how much time you are on your phone. (meal times? bathroom? commercials? the spare seconds in the drive-thru window?)

2. Watch to see if you (and those around you) are on your phones when you could be talking, thinking, or otherwise building your relationships.

3. Track how much you are thinking about or listening for your phone. (church? work? time with your spouse? time with your children?)

4. Watch to see if you are on your phone when others are near you, but don't "need" you. (children playing, spouse doing a chore, public places such as the park or in line, etc.)

5. Take a look around and watch people in their daily lives. Make a note of when you see someone on their phone, and what else is going on around them. 

Number five may freak you out a little sometimes. Watching the glow of dozens of phones on parent's faces while their kids run and play and say "look Mommy, look!!" is weird and kind of scary. I will also say that I have been that parent, and I hate that I have been.

Anyways, do those five steps, then do what you need to in order to fix it. Do you need to dump the smartphone? Do it. Do you need to leave it at home sometimes? Do it. Do you need to disable the internet on it? Do it. Whatever you need to do in order to be there, and I mean really be there and present with life and those around you, do it.

The emails can wait for later. So can the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pics, games, etc. It will all still be there when you are done living life and being with those around you. Christ didn't die so that we could be sucked into the vortex of the endless internet. He died so that we could live, and live abundantly.

He died and rose again so that we could look at the world around us, form a relationship with those we come into contact with, and show His love to everyone around us so that they, too, could know Him.

It's hard to do that if the only glow seen on your face is that of a phone, and not the Son.

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