Who’s the Boss–Me or My Smartphone?

I had just opened my Bible the other day when I heard a familiar buzz, quickly followed by a second one. My phone, lying facedown on the table next to me, was alerting me that 2 texts had just come in.

My concentration on the page in front of me was immediately broken. An internal argument began.

Texts. Drat! Who could that be at this hour? Better see…

No, I’ll check them later.

But it might be important.

No, this is more important. That can wait.

But what if it’s the kids or the lady whose baby is 5 days late?

I picked it up and glanced at it. It wasn’t from my kids or anyone else with an emergency. It was spam. Twice.

I’m becoming trained by my phone. It buzzes or dings and I jump. It’s supposed to be a tool in my hand, my lovely young assistant. But it has become my boss. It demands my attention, sidetracks my agenda, and sabotages my many resolutions to capture it and put it back in its proper place.

How did this happen?

And what can I do about it?

These two questions are posed by Tony Reinke in his thoughtful book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.

When I first saw the title I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. I’m a slow reader, so I pick my books carefully. I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to something that sounded like so many self-help, trendy books that beckon us with their shiny promises of quick diagnostics and easy fixes. I didn’t need 12 Tips for becoming free from something that was already starting to feel very hard to change.

I wondered. Is this going to be a Christian book? Am I going to actually see Jesus and understand how the gospel changes me?

On the other hand I thought. Is this going to be a technology-bashing book that paints the problem in a simple black-and-white color scheme?

More than 12 Tips

Then somebody gave me a copy and I found that it was far more than 12 easy steps for becoming a better me. Tony gives us more than superficial techniques for reasserting our rule over this infuriating, indispensable piece of technology. He gives us a well-researched and heart-searching look at the problem.

He wants to help us restore our phones to be our servants. And he joins us as a fellow struggler.

Too often what my phone exposes in me is not the holy desires of what I know I should want, not even what I think I should want, and especially not what I want you to think I want. My phone screen divulges in razor-sharp pixels what my heart really wants.

–from the preface

I’m only a few chapters in, but I can already see that Tony is inviting us

  • to understand ourselves (not just what we do, but why)
  • to understand technology (as God’s good gift)
  • to understand God’s grace (for our failures)
  • to understand how much we are missing

His book is actually an invitation to joy!

I’m planning to blog about it over the next few weeks, and I’m inviting you to join the discussion. For starters:

How do you see your cellphone bossing you around?

Let’s talk about it.

2 comments on “Who’s the Boss–Me or My Smartphone?

  1. I try not to use my phone a ton during the day because I don’t want my kids to get the “impression” that I am “tied to or enslaved” to my phone but……I find myself the second they are down wanting to be drawn to it and zone out since my mind is toast anyway! It usually starts with an innocent let me just delete all my junk mail and then I am being pulled into some internet exploration that keeps me zoned out for too long! I know for me it is helpful to set a time limit ..,haha …sticking to it is a different story ..,no but I usually do 😉 Thanks Rondi for the thoughtful internet time…I do want to use it as a tool!!! I love your words of wisdom as always!!

    • Rondi says:

      Hey friend! I’m sorry it took me a while to approve your comment and reply. Maybe I need to spend MORE time on my phone?? No, I just need to get smarter at using it, so I can access things like the comment section of the blog…Hug those boys for me and let’s keep talking about this topic.