It answers all my questions and allows me to answer anyone else’s, whatever the time of day or night. It informs me, entertains me and tells me when I’m late for my next appointment.
I can constantly keep abreast of news, culture and silly videos on Facebook. The little device accompanies me everywhere I go, lies by my bed at night and if I’m separated from it I feel oddly nervous. If I’m out of 4G signal for any length of time I begin to wonder, ‘What if someone needs me?’
Even this very page you are reading was written on the two-by-five-inch piece of technology that consumes so much of my time and attention.
Perhaps a more accurate description of the situation would be that I’m a slave to my smartphone. While the technological revolution and constant connectedness has huge benefits, it should also cause us to question whether we own our smartphones or they own us.
When Jamie Cutteridge wrote his article on the potential dangers of the instant gratification that technology provides (p16), we also asked Twitter users who had deliberately fasted from social media over Lent to tell us about their experiences.
Victoria ended up abandoning Facebook entirely. ‘God showed me that I needed to look up from a screen and see what was happening around me,’ she said. Meanwhile, Steph explained: ‘I’m happy to be back on social media, but I know that I need to make sure it’s not controlling me.’
Dave Winter shared how it changed interactions with his children: ‘Notably Harrison (five) told me that I was “listening more with my eyes now”.’ (Read his experience in full on p21.)
It’s not that technology is bad, of course. In fact, I’m convinced it’s one of the greatest gifts God has given us. The way we are connected to everyone else today has the potential to change our world for good. But as we know so well, every good gift from God has the potential to be abused and used for self-absorbed ends.
So today I challenge myself, and I challenge you, to consider the question: do you own your smartphone or does your smartphone own you? If the answer isn’t the one it should be, what are you going to do about it?