A Return to “Dumb”

“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.


Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

8 thoughts on “A Return to “Dumb””

  1. Been there. Unplugging that. Radically disconnecting from all things “e-“. -Connecting to family.
    A stronger commitment to our primary purpose.


    Feel’s good, don’t it?


  2. It must be in the air Sam. I’ve been having thoughts along those lines now for a few months. Can’t say I’m ready to make the move you have, but I am re-evaluating when I use my smart phone and when I leave it lay and go off to actually do something with a more enjoyable focus that is not interrupt-able. Thanks for the post.


  3. I’m proud of you. As difficult as the step is ~ dare we call it Step 1? ~ there is a freedom to not being attached to a phone. Having grown up without all this “great” new world of technology, I’m always a little bit glad inside when I leave the house and “accidently” forget my phone. Free for hours and hours…enjoy the down time. You might get to the point where you look forward to it. 🙂


  4. I haven’t had a cell-phone let a lone smart phone for about 10 years now. In the past I’ve had a strange kind of pride in not being tied down by a device; but more recently have been wondering what I’ve been missing. Your words are my confirmation that I haven’t missed a damn thing.


  5. I was with you until I planted the church. Never had a cellphone, never wanted. Then I had to be available for a lot more people. Unfortunately, I gave way to temptation and what was simplicity became enslaving. It’s only been day 1 of sobriety and, quite honestly, I feel truly relieved of a burden. When I reflect on how much I must have let it absorb my time, it is both sad and sickening.


  6. I went to Portland a few months ago to meet with a friend who I hadn’t spent time with in over 4 years. I was SO looking forward to a short 4-hour visit with her. She’s a real estate broker in CA and was supposedly on vacation for a day. She was so attached to her new ipad, iphone and whatever other dingle berry thing she had in her purse that we never really had any conversation. I kept asking her to put it away, turn it off for just an hour. She couldn’t do it. I felt like the entire trip down had been wasted ~ I could have just text her. Then at my daughter’s wedding, there were an incredible amount of people who experienced the entire wedding from their cell phone’s point of view. Sad that they missed it. It was GREAT in person!


  7. True. You’re different. I don’t have anybody to call or text. My wife knows where to find me: at work or on my way to or from work. But that’s another problem altogether.


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