So, apparently I’m addicted to my cell phone.
What’s not to love? It’s pink, it’s shiny and it responds to my every command.
I can’t recall when I first became aware that my iPhone had a function that showed how much screen time I average per day or week. But I do remember the shock when I saw the numbers, and no, I’m not going to tell you what they were. Talk about a wake-up call. There I was, complaining and making excuses about how I didn’t have enough time to write, that there just weren’t enough hours in the day, and the cold hard facts were staring me in the face.
I had the time. I was just squandering it.
In my defense, a portion of my screen time was under the category of reading and reference and creativity. Several of my devotionals are online and I use Blueletterbible.org every day as I read my Bible and write. Plus, I have the Kindle app which I occasionally use. But that’s not where the majority of the hours (oops, did I say hours? I meant minutes, ahem.) went. It was Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest that were eating up my time—mindless scrolling and I don’t even like puppy dog videos.
The other day, Facebook sent me a notice that it was my 10-year anniversary of using the app. Funny thing is, I remember what I thought when I first looked at the social platform that everyone was making such a big deal out of: “This seems pretty lame.”
Jumping from platform to platform
In August I began to make a shift over to Instagram. I liked the aesthetics and it’s where my writer friends hang out, but that added to my screen time, as did all the pictures I was taking.
Gradually I stopped bringing a book with me when I went to appointments. “I’ve got books on my phone,” I told myself, except I rarely opened the Kindle app. It was easier to flip through Facebook.
The only time I get to read for pleasure is in the evenings, but I’m tired and find it hard to focus, so once again I pick up the phone—scroll, scroll, scroll. Then I wonder why I have such a hard time falling asleep.
Here’s my sad truth: I’d allowed a marvelous tool to distract me from my passion: communicating and connecting with others through my writing.
A Distraction Epidemic
I know I’m not the only one. It’s rampant. I used to point the finger at my grand kids, then my adult kids but now I’m the guilty one. You, too? It’s an epidemic.
Speaking of the epidemic, writer Patricia Snow, in her article, Look at Me, On Our Need For Real Presence In A Distracted World, says this:
“On the street and in the office, at the dinner table and on a remote hiking trail, in line at the deli and pushing a stroller through the park, people go about their business bent over a small glowing screen, as if praying.”
We spend so much time hunched over our phones there’s actually a condition called “text neck,” which refers to neck pain that results from looking down at your cell phone for too long.
Oh, that we would develop “prayer necks” from bowing to communicate with the Lord more.
Why am I making such a big deal out of this, you ask? Isn’t it just the reality of the world we live in?
Yeah, it’s the reality of our world, but, um, we’re not supposed to BE of this world.
Here’s another reality that made me sit up straight in my chair: Estimates are that the grand total of time that social media now takes up in a lifetime is somewhere near five years and four months!
Even if you don’t spend that much time on your phone, the truth is, we are a distracted people. On the plus side, with our heads buried in our phones, if Jesus comes back in our lifetime, we’ll be among the first to know about it!
Phones keep us pre-occupied when we should be Spirit-occupied.
1 Peter 5:8 admonishes us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
There are nine verses in the New Testament which warn us to be alert. The Greek word is gregoreo, which means “to keep awake.”
Here’s my translation:
“Wake up! The Devil doesn’t just want to eat your lunch, He wants to eat YOU for lunch!”
What better way to take us out of the game than to turn us into distracted zombies?
Our days are numbered
Psalm 90:12 reminds us to count our days.
Help us to remember that our days are numbered,
and help us to interpret our lives correctly.
Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts
so that we may accept your correction. TPT
It’s your turn
Now I’d like you to stop for a minute and pick up your phone—oh, wait! You’re reading this on your phone! Go to Settings on your phone, and click on Screen Time and then hit weekly usage. I’m going to trust that you won’t get waylaid by Facebook and Instagram (but I bet some of you will) and that you’ll actually flip back over here.
Are you back?
Eye-opening, isn’t it? Is that how you want your days to be numbered? I don’t! I’ve still got too much work to do! So, what’s the answer?
WAKE UP and WISE UP!
The first step is to be aware of the purposefully addictive aspects of your phone and social media platforms.
Seeing those “likes” on your pics and posts releases dopamine in your system, the same neurotransmitter you get from gambling and pornography. Don’t believe me? Instagram admits to deliberately withholding post “likes’ and later batching them so you get a dopamine rush when they show up.
Do some research. It’s scary. Google Brain hacking.
There’s a war going on
What this all adds up to is a battle for our time and a battle for our minds. Ultimately, it’s a battle for our hearts and I’m worried we’re losing the battle.
Are you addicted to your cell phone? I was going to give you a list of symptoms of phone addiction, but I’m pretty sure you already know if you’ve got a problem. If you do, just start like I did, by simply admitting it.
How to break up with your cell phone
- Make first 30 minutes of your day a NO PHONE ZONE.
- Monitor your screen time. Aim to reduce it.
- Disable phone notifications.
- Decide on a set hour and amount of time to check social media (ex. 20 minutes morning and evening.) Set your phone’s timer to keep yourself accountable.
- Put phone on other side of room and grab a book.
- Consider installing an app that tracks your smartphone habits, like QualityTime or Moment, so that you can set a specific usage goal and see how well you stick to it. iPhone already has this function.
- Set App Limits on your iPhone (go to settings, screen time, click App Limits)
Harder than you think to to put your phone down? Try this. Set your lock screen with a reminder image. (Download this lock screen image here).
Make sure to thank the Lord for this amazing communication tool and ask the Holy Spirit to help you use it wisely and for the good of others. Ask Him to help you be a good steward of your time. Pray before you pick up your phone and then pray as you read and respond to posts from your online friends. Then put the phone down and go live your big, beautiful life.
As Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Let’s do this together, friends.
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