One of the things that annoys me most in the whole world is when people spend their lives glued to their phone with no other reason than to scroll (insert social media network here).
You probably know the kind of person I’m talking about. Those friends who, when you agree to go somewhere together, hardly ever look up from the phone unless it’s to order their food or to give a short response to whatever conversation point you’ve thrown out there.
Those friends who, when you agree to watch a movie, must ask you to rewind or pause and explain something because they just couldn’t watch the screen for more than one minute.
If you read between the lines here, you’ll probably notice I have friends who do this, and I take great umbrage with it. But instead of a few hundred words on how much it annoys me, I’d rather share some ideas about the benefits of not doing it. Trust me, I am guilty of doing it too.
We will be more connected
Practicing active engagement will lead to us being closer to our friends. When our friends invite us out, it’s because they want to spend time with US. They want to have discussions with our thoughts involved, they want to experience new and interesting things with us experiencing the same things right there with them.
I once had a friend who was watching a movie with me, and they barely looked up once. I mentioned it to them, and they asked me why it upset me, to which I replied, ‘because I could replace you with a wall and likely have a better experience’.
When someone wants to do things with us, it’s unequivocally our identity and our company they are seeking, so next time we’re attending a social gathering, we could try and see how differently it might go if we spend it engaging with the agreed upon activity. Our friends will be happier around us, they will trust us more, and we will feel more whole as a result.
We will be more fulfilled
There have been many studies which discuss the dopamine release and how potent our phones are at activating it. Think about it, ‘I’m bored, better just open my phone and scroll until something makes me happy. Yay, I’m happy. I like that feeling. Better just scroll until I experience it again.’ Rinse and repeat.
One might argue that if we feel happy, then we’re doing it right, but I promise you this is not a fulfilling happiness. Unfortunately, each and every human being alive has other things that must be done not just for the overall betterment of their own lives, but the betterment of the lives around them.
The simple act of making sure you’re fed well, or taking some time to exercise in the day, or spending a few minutes socialising, or, this might be hard to believe, but even talking to God, will lead to such a fulfilled day and, if followed regularly, a more fulfilled life.
We will be better people
A friend of mine said something that really stuck with me ‘Our phones can be powerful servants, and wicked masters’.
I may have come across through this article as some silly, anti-phone crackpot, but I feel I should iterate that I use my phone (along with plenty of other technology) every day, and I am constantly struggling with catching myself, realising that I’m not doing anything but scrolling social media and tricking myself into thinking all is well.
God has simply not created us to do this, though. We are not designed to pursue simple pleasures, but to worship God and pursue relationships. To reflect his Glory and to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. None of these things are achieved when we are enslaved to anything.
I was reading up a bit on Stoicism this week and this passage stood out to me.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.” - Seneca
It is always an interesting thought to me when I remember literally everyone on the planet has the exact same amount of hours in a day, and that there are people who have achieved great things and people who are yet to realize their goals (I’m not in any way suggesting that ‘great things’ is gaining all the money, just that people have done great things).
When I think of the purpose for which I believe God has made me, and I take a look at all the practices and habits I currently act out, it is easy for me to realise that God hasn’t given me some kind of impossible task, but if I leave it to my own devices, it’s likely that I will fail. But how much sweeter is life when we succeed?
Josiah Gray lives in Logan City, Australia. He is currently studying teaching at Christian Heritage College and is committed to telling the story of Jesus to the next generation. Josiah’s previous articles may be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josiah-gray.html