We live in a world of distractions. Each company is vying for our attention and is trying to come up with the most effective way to get it. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on how to try to get our attention. Most of these distractions come from a screen which is now in every single person’s pocket.
A recent study showed that, on average, each person in the United States spends nearly 3 hours a day on their mobile device. Three hours, every single day! Ten years ago the average was around 90 minutes a day. But as companies learned that the more attention they get, the more profit they receive, they started pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into getting what they want. And they got it.
We now live in the most distracted age in human history.
If I try to focus on any one thing (that isn’t a screen) for longer than 10 minutes, my mind instinctively pulls out my phone. I don’t even know why I’m looking at my phone because there’s no real reason I need to. Perhaps I want the endorphins to fire in my mind, to get a small rush and to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
It’s almost as if we can’t have any “down time” in our lives. We have to fill our time with something and our phones have filled that gap. Whether standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for a meeting to begin, our phone is the “gap filler”. We have this need to always be fulfilled. Even when we come home to “rest”, we turn on the TV. Another screen with shows and ads paid for by millions of dollars, contending for our attention.
Going back to go forward
Let me first say that I’m writing this article because I feel personally convicted about this. I feel as if God is asking me to give Him some of my attention even though everything else is competing for it.
I remember when I first fell in love with God. I felt as though His creation was so beautiful that it was easy to find Him in it. I loved His Scripture and felt that it gave me life. I saw Him in the people around me as we tried to love each other, even in our brokenness. I found a life that I was pleased with because my fulfillment came from God.
In short, I used to give God more of myself and more of my time. But recently, I’ve been more of a statistic. Giving hours and hours of my time to the screens that people have spent millions of dollars on. I’m not blaming them and neither is God. I think God is asking me which is more important and which one actually brings me life?
How do we participate in age of distraction?
First, where is our focus? We have to go back to God and ask Him what it looks like to participate in the life that He wants for us. Our answer to not being distracted isn’t to focus on “not being distracted”. It’s to focus on the things that God wants for us. Perhaps God wants us to be more intentional with community or with close friends. Perhaps it’s getting out in creation by going for a walk or a hike. Perhaps it’s getting more involved at church or a community group.
Second, we need to be in a daily relationship with God. If we can spend 3 hours a day on our phone, then certainly we can spend 10-20 minutes with God each day. We can do this by reading the Bible, listening to worship or by reading a daily devotional. Jesus modeled a life in relationship with the Father and we’re supposed to model Jesus.
My challenge to myself and the readers: Let’s figure out a healthy way to participate and enjoy the life God has given us.
Jason LaLone was on staff at YWAM Brisbane and is currently in America working with Truro Anglican Church located in Fairfax, Virginia. He is passionate about discipleship, taking Jesus’ command to make disciples a practical reality that he can live on a daily basis. He loves lasagna, cats and used to dislike Mondays, making him most like Garfield.
Jason LaLone’s previous articles might be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/Jason-LaLone.html