Do We Control Our Smartphone or Does Our Smartphone Control Us?

Do We Control Our Smartphone or Does Our Smartphone Control Us?

For a long time I resisted getting a smartphone. It’s not that I’m technologically adverse; I love technology. And it’s not that I didn’t see how beneficial it would be to have Internet access anytime, anywhere. It’s that I worried about how having a smartphone might affect my interactions with others or distract me from fully experiencing what was happening around me.

I’ve seen too many examples of people fixated on their smartphone: texting, surfing, checking Facebook, tweeting, or playing games, all the while ignoring the people and events around them. Smartphones give us the ability to isolate ourselves in a roomful of people. I wanted to avoid that struggle, so I avoided buying a smartphone.

So when I finally succumbed to smartphone inevitability, I wanted to make sure I controlled it, instead of it controlling me, the things I did, and when I did them. Smartphones are adept at alerting, beeping, and shaking to get our attention, usually distracting us from something more important. The person I am with should (usually) take precedence over the person calling, texting, or emailing. The situation I am in should (usually) take precedence over the news or information waiting inside my smartphone. I intend to master my smartphone, not be mastered by it.

I want to be like Paul. He says, “I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Peter puts it a different way: “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (2 Peter 2:19). Though these men never struggled with smartphone interruptions, they seem to fully understand its threat.

Let’s live in the moment, and keep our smartphones in our pockets.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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