Technological gain and advancement are good. We no longer have to carry an atlas on every unknown road trip to navigate from point A to point B. We no longer have to buy cassettes and CDs in order to listen to music (however, there are those hipsters who love to buy vinyl, but, I’m sure this is a slim portion of the majority). If you’re a reader, you no longer have to haul books around precisely because we have the luxury of buying them as a digital or an audio copy. Paper and pencil? Use your notepad on your iPhone. Why buy a film or DSLR camera if you have one on your phone? The trajectory of technological advancement has benefited every human being by bringing (pretty much) all things into their hands, in part because of the advent of the flourishing app stores. Everyone, if they find themselves with a smartphone, has the ability to live a life free from silence, a life filled with continuous distraction. Despite the benefits that have submerged because of smartphone technology, there is a real danger when we consider how much time we spend on our phones instead of being present doing other things.
Personally, I am always using my phone for something. I use my phone to listen to various podcasts and Youtube videos, music, and to read my Bible. Sometimes I even use the timer on my phone to remind me to pray throughout the day! Most of the time, I use my phone for positive and productive things unless I am on an endless scrolling frenzy on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
At least in the iPhone, it logs how much “screen time” there has been throughout the time you use your phone. It also tells you which apps you’ve used the most and the amount of time you’ve spent on those apps. If you want to know if you have a problem with staring at your phone, being distracted, and not paying attention in the social settings you find yourself in, go to your settings and go to the “screen time” tab. There it tells you how much time you have spent on whatever apps you have used in the last 7 days.
In the last 7 days, I’ve averaged 3 hours and 43 minutes per day of “screen time”. I don’t necessarily know where this sits on any given range, but, the fact is that that is a lot of wasted time. What would you do if you had an extra 4 hours a day?
God, when he finished His creation, He declared it all good (Gen 1:13). Moreover, when God made man, he decreed that they should have dominion over all the Earth (Gen 1:26). God, in His grace, made men with the ability to use their intellectual prowess to discover fire, invent the wheel, the printing press, light, the telephone, the computer, and much more. Technology is a fruit from God’s common grace gifts of smarts and wits given to humanity.
But, I have a question. Has God’s declaration of man’s having dominion over the Earth been reversed? When God declares something, it will never be revoked. So, the answer to the question above is “NO.” We still have dominion over the Earth, yet, it sure seems as if, at least in part, technology has dominion over us. I believe we have fallen into technological slavery.
We have welcomed the very thing we are to have dominion over, to have dominion over us. Do we own our phones and the technology that is supposed to serve us or do they own us? Do we bend at the will of a phone notification or do we respond and interact with our phone on our own terms? As a Christian, we must strive to overcome the vice grip of technology. Let me give you some scriptural basis for this assertion.
Ephesians 5:15-16 commands us to: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” We should seek to be wise Christians who utilize the tools set before us for our benefit, not for our destruction. 1 John 5:21 tells us, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Technology has most of us in a vice grip. We should not minimize the danger this has. Idolatry can creep in from areas we are very much unaware of, and we should be quick to address it in our hearts. Psalm 1 tells us that the blessed man’s “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” As all well-intending followers of Christ, we must realize that technology is a real distraction. It binds our psyche, our thoughts, and gives the devil a foothold to tempt us with various things we might want to buy, look like, live like, or seem like on the internet. The temptations are legion. We should seek to delight in God and meditate day and night on His law, reducing as much distraction we have in our daily lives.
All over the internet, you can find ways to “resolve” your technological slavery, but here I will give you 7 brief “suggestions” regarding your daily interaction with technology, more particularly, your phone.
(1) Use “Airplane mode”. Use it as you see fit, but, as an example, try turning your phone into “airplane mode” an hour or two before you go to bed. This guarantees you will probably fall asleep faster, too.
(2) When doing your Bible reading or prayer time, leave your phone in another room. Don’t let your time with the Lord be filled with distracting notifications.
(3) Call instead of text. It reduces your time on your phone and you will most likely communicate what you mean with much more clarity.
(4) Protect your time with others. Seek to invest deeply into the relationships you are cultivating instead of always looking down at your phone for the latest notification. As we do this, we are literally telling the other person, “you are not enough to keep me interested.”
(5) Have “distraction free” times during your day. This is essential if you seek to unwind from work and the various things that consume our mental life throughout our days.
(6) Create your own rules. All in all, these have been suggestions. At the end of the day, you must see through what you think will work for you. But, the point is, do something.
(7) Read some material to educate yourself on the right use of technology. Here are some suggestions:
In conclusion, as we seek to live a life free from technological distraction and replace these bad habits, I believe our efforts will result in a much more positive, deep, and real connection with God in our study and prayer and with people and world around us. Technology is good and despite its danger to distract, it can help us live easier, more fulfilling and practical lives. Though this will never happen if we do not run from the technological slavery we have begun to engage in. My prayer is that it may not have dominion over us, but, us over it.