I took great caution in obtaining a smartphone for two reasons. First, as a general rule I don’t like carrying anything in my pocket smarter than I am. Second, I feared I would become a tool of social media rather than allowing it to be a tool for me. Having had my phone for about a month now, I feel that both of my concerns have been realized.
The phone is amazing, and it really seems to have some level of problem-solving intelligence. Okay, not really, but the apps are wonderful, and I love being able to make Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr coalesce in order to share my photos with a variety of different folks who want to see them. I am trying to fit twitter into the mix as well, and while I am still figuring out how everything unites, I really think the phone allows one to utilize news, updates, and ideas well, hitting different quadrants for different friends and family, based on their own connectivity to unique sites. The phone is a wonderful relational tool (and, yes, it may be smarter than me).
That being said, some days I am truly possessed by social media. I cannot get enough of it. I post this or that, check for reactions, devour others’ updates, and wait for their responses. I become addicted to both giving and getting attention (the latter more so, if I’m honest). I constantly find myself on a variety of apps, not only out of a sense of desire but obligation, both of which have grown in strength each week that the phone has been in my possession. Truly, I finally feel “plugged in” to the social-media-subculture, and I am loving my place in it.
But this has happened at great cost (and I do not use that adjective lightly). My attention is skewed. I have found myself pulling out my phone at any lull in conversation. I find myself checking updates when I could be taking time to pray. I look toward the next time I can check my phone rather than read the Word. My interactions with real, physical human beings get divided attention because I am pre-occupied over scoring 20-points-per-turn on a game I used to refuse to play or because I “feel behind” on a news source I thought was ridiculous until about 6 months ago.
I was right to be afraid.
But I am not overly disheartened. On the contrary, I am excited. Three quick reasons why this is. First, I have seen the true value of the iPhone as a social tool. I feel connected to folks in a new way, and I really do see that virtual connection as an avenue to a more actual one. Second, I see the joy that can be brought via social media, and the smartphone is a valuable device for said purpose. Third, and most importantly, I have learned that the iPhone is not the problem. My human nature to put any-and-every-thing above God is the problem. Strangely, I have never felt so convicted about a good thing. I am encouraged by the possibilities of using this tool, but I know that it has very real power to pull focus from my relationship with the Lord and put it onto my relationships with others and “the culture”. Of course, focusing on others is not not the problem; the problem is trading down from the best thing, to a good thing. This is a dynamic I need to change. Lord-willing, I can.
Sent from a laptop. (Thanks for reading)