The day finally arrived on Tuesday. I was going to be out all day and, while making a cell phone call to my wife, I realized my phone had only 1% of its battery life. There was no charger in the car or where I was headed. I was going to have to ‘survive’ without my smart phone. It was no big deal, I thought. Then I wanted to check my bank balance, but my phone was dead. Then I wanted to see when the rain was going to fall, but my phone was dead. Then I wanted to text my wife, but my phone was dead. It made me wonder what I did before the IPhone©?
On Tuesday, I felt hand-cuffed by my lack of technology at will. I realized how much I rely daily on my 14 square inch computer, electronic wallet, GPS and media player. I began to experience phantom vibrations from my powerless device and, akin to Pavlov’s dog, checked the news brief or text that wasn’t there. Is that what my life has become – my pleasure and productivity conditioned by technological pellets spewed from my cell phone? On Tuesday, I realized that some things need to change.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)
Truth be told, the above portion of Scripture has to do with sexual immorality and not cell phone use (although some may say these areas of human behavior overlap). Still, I am confident that Paul’s words to the church in Corinth speak to me in Dorchester. I have the right and the ability to do anything with my smart phone, but not everything I can do is beneficial. Yes, I can play Sudoku, watch “Mr. Robot” and look up the proper spelling of “Sudoku” on my phone – but is there any benefit?
Even more difficult to ask and answer is the question of mastery? Am I refraining from human interaction because of the perception that asking Siri will be quicker? Am I convinced that texting is easier because then I don’t need to hear another person’s thoughts? Can I go a day without engaging with Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush Saga or YouTube? Is my first thought, when faced with a problem or inconvenience, “Is there an app for that?” Am I being mastered by my phone? Going a day without it made me realize that I need to disengage with technology on a regular basis.
Perhaps there is something to Dixie©’s “Be More Here” campaign where they suggest that we all unplug for a meal and see what happens. Perhaps there is something to the concept of a technology fast – a discipline of faith where we turn off the phone and devote that time and our attention to speaking and hearing from God. Even if we have the Bible on our phone, perhaps there would be some benefit to power down the electronics, with all their distractions, and open the Good Book. Smart phones are wonderful tools and add a great deal to life, but they are not the only tools God has given us. Perhaps we can put the phone away for a while and explore some of the other resources we have at our disposal.