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5 Ways Your Phone Wants to Control You

phone-99067_640I’ve started thinking of our phones as sentient beings. Amazing resources who come into our lives as guests, but continually battle to master us.

If you aren’t aware of their schemes and devices, they’ll eventually devour you.

Here’s 5 ways your phone wants to take over your life:

1. Your phone wants you to be tribal.

As humans, we struggle against tribalism all the time. We tend towards groups we are comfortable with, whether it’s our circle of friends, our family, our religious groups, or others who share our interests.

The marketplace is where you’re exposed to diversity. Getting out and rubbing shoulders with all sorts of people with different perspectives and ideals is good for you. But more and more your phone wants to lead you back to your tribe.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, your phone wants to keep you talking, texting, and checking in with your small circle of influence. Being out in the world’s your opportunity to grow and see things differently. Don’t be tempted to miss out on the blessing of others because you’re tethered to your tribe.

You might think that having constant online interaction with people from all over the world makes you less tribal, not more. I would contend that its regular, every-day, person-to-person interaction that’s going to make the world a better place.

2. Your phone wants to make you a narcissist.

You might be a rockstar on Instagram, but you’re just another person at the mall. Anonymity is an important spiritual discipline. Learning to love and care for others requires that you don’t see yourself as the center of the universe. Not being the center of attention is an important part of placing others first.

There’s a strong temptation to default to social media to give yourself significance. Don’t eat that fruit—it’s poison.

3. Your phone doesn’t want you to think.

Smart phones and tablets are making us into people who can find information quickly but have forgotten how to think. What’s worse is that your phone adds to the white noise in your mind.

Spirituality requires a still and quiet mind. No one wants to be a shallow person who can’t follow a thought to its conclusion. Your phone doesn’t want you to have deep, life-changing thoughts; it wants you to look at it . . . one more time.

4. Your phone doesn’t want you to make any divine appointments.

As a Christian, I believe there are opportunities all around for you to serve Christ by being available to others. But you need to be ready for them. To be prepared, you need to be aware of people’s needs, their words, and even their body language.

I believe that God makes little appointments for you, but your phone wants you to be distracted and miss them.

5. Your phone doesn’t want you to be present.

I went with the kids to a Decemberists concert. As we were waiting for the show to start, I looked around and noticed that about 80% of the audience had their phones out. These were people on dates, friends on a night out, and families spending time together. The number of people hypnotized by their phones, and ignoring the people around them, was eye opening.

The people around you deserve your attention. It’s amazing how many Facebook posts and check-ins say something like, “Enjoying a scone with my beautiful daughter at Starbucks.” And the thought that, however briefly, that magic moment was interrupted so you could pull out your phone, log into Facebook, and tell us about it is crazy. Be present for the people around you, and by doing so, teach them to be present too.

Your phone is an incredible tool! But it is also a monster that needs to be closely monitored. If you aren’t thoughtful and intentional in the way you handle it, you just might get devoured.

Have you mastered your phone, or has it mastered you? Leave me a comment!

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. “You might be a rockstar on Instagram, but you’re just another person at the mall.”

    Love the humor–glad it was backed up by intelligence! Good points throughout. I’m definitely part of your intended audience…

    September 19, 2012
  2. I remember about three years ago God asked my wife and I to give up cell phones. We didn’t have them for about two years and discovered that we could, in fact, live without them. Amazing revelation huh? 🙂

    September 20, 2012
    • Weird to think that this is a relatively new phenomenon.

      September 20, 2012
  3. Chris Wooden #

    Well stated…and challenging. Thank you for this piece.

    September 20, 2012
  4. This is a good reminder! Liked this line especially: “Anonymity is an important spiritual discipline. Learning to love and care for others requires that you don’t see yourself as the center of the universe.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, too, in relation to not just phones but social media in general.

    Thanks for posting.

    September 25, 2012

    September 29, 2012
  6. I’m currently going through a podcast series that details this very same concept! The latest one is called “The Slow Sunset of the Self.” These are based on my time at the Chautauqua Institution over the summer during their Digital Identity week. Hope you’ll check it out dawg.

    October 18, 2012
    • I definitely will! Thanks for the heads up, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance.

      October 18, 2012
      • Back at cha, love what y’all are tackling here!

        October 20, 2012
  7. Elizabeth #

    I so remember the time of NO cell phone and guess what, I survived that time! I love speaking with my elderly customers and try to imagine the world with less (or no) overactive media and smart phones. Sounds almost like ancient times doesn’t it?
    Thanks for this post!

    August 17, 2013

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