“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Co 6:12).
I’ve finally done it. I have deactivated my “smartphone” phone, at least for a while. So this is goodbye games, goodbye navigator, goodbye news flashes, goodbye Google Sky, goodbye in store price-checks, goodbye Facebook updates, goodbye Twitter notifications, goodbye email, goodbye calendar, goodbye weather reports, goodbye verse of the days, goodbye YouTube on the toilet, goodbye location check-in, goodbye lightsaber-phone, goodbye blinking light, goodbye obnoxious chime. I won’t miss you, I am going back to “dumb”.
Why would I do that? Frankly, I think I was becoming enslaved to technology. And though there are perhaps a thousand arguments as to why people might “need” their phone, I think we all might be a bit delusional. We’ve been fished in, hooked on, and otherwise persuaded to believe we need a bunch of APP crap that does little more than help us to waste a lot of time like children doing childish things. In fact, I am starting to believe that the “smarter” we get technologically, the more harm we may be doing to ourselves and our relationships.
For the last couple years, I have felt enslaved. I have found it difficult to unplug when I am (seemingly) connected all the time to everyone. And because I am constantly “connected”, my mind is constantly in engaged in the world outside, whether that is with my work or whatever everyone else is doing–but never in the moment right in front of me where I actually am. What it created was a man who was physically present but emotionally absent. If you’re at all like me (which I hope you are not), I have found using my smartphone feels like an addiction–I feel empty if I don’t get my fix–like I am missing out on something. Invariably, it creates a man, husband, Father, and friend who is constantly looking away from everything else and at his phone every chance he gets. It creates an addict who interrupts, even starts to destroy “real” relationships to engage with online friends, to the extent of anxiously looking forward to (even wishing for) the next little light to flash or chime to sound indicating that “something is happening.”.
I know many will say that complete abstention is extreme but, for me, right now it is necessary. I challenge a lot of you to turn off your smartphone for a week (even a day) and see how much “smarter” you actually start to become. It’s ironic, but I think the use of my smartphone began to make me really dumb. There are many layers to this, but none more obvious than simply the different times I decided to look at the stupid thing. I looked at it in the middle of conversations, during a group prayer, when I was driving, when watching my boys place soccer, when I was eating, when I was bored, when I was exercising, and even when I was pooping. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. So, I am returning to the simple life when a phone was a phone, when everything did not need an immediate response, when time away from “friends” was good, when talking to someone was better than messaging them, and when I had a bit more of a meaningful life that could not be summarized on a status update every 15 minutes.
Please know I am not expecting or hoping others to follow, though I believe everyone needs to ask themselves some hard questions about how they spend their time on their stupid phone. For me, I am hoping that my refusal to lose myself in a 2 1/2″ x 6″ plastic portal into a cyber-world will actually help me to live and be more present in the real one.