I saw a man the other day, sitting at a meal with his family. He was ignoring the very people around them and was totally engrossed in his smartphone, looking at a social media post or some fleeting news.
I later saw that same guy glued to his smartphone during what seemed to be an important meeting. The very next day, I saw this guy miss his kid’s touchdown play at a flag football game because he was looking at his phone.
That man was me. I cannot seem to ever fully break from smartphones these days. They are everywhere we go. I once caught myself in a dentist chair, having my teeth worked on, and tempted to check my phone when I got a text message. To put it succinctly, smartphones are everywhere and an endless source of distraction.
Now society has made “no texting while driving” a key focal point of social pressure and laws, for good reason. I sometimes wonder, though, if we need apply some pressure on ourselves to find other text-free and phone-free times.
In a new article published in the Washington Post, ‘Why the church can rescue us from our smartphones’, Dr. Russell Moore discusses what’s at stake. Quoting another writer, the piece says, “’If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.’”
Dr. Moore went on to say, “We don’t just have people who are grumpy in line at the supermarket; we have to respond to anonymous critics — or even cyber-bullies — on social media. And we are always just a text message away from the words ‘I just want to give you a heads-up’ upending an entire day or night—no matter if it’s a Sabbath or a vacation or a family dinner. This can be exhausting.”
I agree. I have found that taking breaks from my smartphone, such as at the dinner table, provides a needed break. I have also found that not checking email at all hours of the day mitigates exhaustion caused by smartphones.
As Christians, we do not hate technology, of course. We just guard against it becoming an idol or replacement for the things God has called us to do. As Christian George once said, it is significant that Jesus Our Lord came as a Person, not a pixel. God could have e-mailed a plan of redemption or the Scriptures, but He chose Incarnation.
Following His example, let’s consciously find ways to live incarnational lives, to be present among the people around us. Let’s become less dependent on our phones and more dependent on Him. Because when we do, the world will take note that Christians are not distracted but are different.