On January 5th, 2012, I wrote a post about screen time. My work life requires a lot of screen time, so I have made decisions about limiting my television and computer screen time in my private life. As of yesterday, I have a brand new challenge when it comes to limiting my screen time. Oh, the smart phone. The screen that follows you everywhere.
My cell phone died yesterday. It was a red flip phone. My friends would make fun of me for having “an old school” or “vintage” phone. It didn’t take pictures or connect to the internet like their smart phones. But I liked my phone. I preferred it that way. I didn’t like having internet available to me all the time. When work is over, I want my screen time to be done. I want to be outside, be cooking, be doing yoga or be talking to the people I love. My friends who run out and get the newest version of technology call me a “Late Adapter.” I prefer to think of myself as a conscientious objector.
I try not to have my phone out in social situations. I like the people that I am with to feel like they have my full attention. As a spiritual person, I like to feel unplugged from technology when I am with friends so I can really listen and be present. I respect phones as a tool of communication, but I try to treat my cell phone like I treated my land line before the age of mobile phones.
The thing I liked most about having a flip phone instead of a smart phone is that it left a little room to wonder. I think wonderment is important. I would wonder something, and my friends would immediately break out their phones to see if they could answer my questions. But I didn’t want answers all the time. Sometimes I just wanted to ask questions and wonder. I think spirituality is a lot about asking the right questions. It is about wonderment and awe. Not as much about answers and clarity, right and wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, access to information is important. The pursuit of knowledge is the quest for truth. I just trust that anything that is worth knowing can wait. My spouse works in social media. I have a deep respect for the way that he uses his phone as a tool to enhance his life. But he also respects when I point out how easily he can get tuned out as the phone sucks him in. He works to be present with me so we can have quality time together.
Standing at the store, we were informed that it was cheaper for me to replace my flip phone with a smart phone. My spouse laughed at me and said, “Welcome to the dark side.” I think with some intentionality, boundaries and awareness of social etiquette, I can use my new phone as a tool without letting it take over. I can choose to put the phone down, unplug, and find wonder in the goodness of God in the world around me.
Do you know people who spend too much time looking at the screen? Are any of your friends addicted to technology? How far is too far?
What are the benefits of smart phones? What are the limitations?
I have a former student who hosts dinner parties and makes his friends put their phones in a basket as they enter his house. Would that be hard for your friends to do?
Photo courtesy of Mark J P via Creative Commons License