Put down your device!

I walk into the "Daily Grind" (it's our coffee shop on campus at Northland) and order my drink.  I pay the worker, and walk over to wait for what I have ordered to be given to me.  I stand there nervously and promptly pull my iPhone out of my pocket to check Facebook. I look through my newsfeed until my drink is ready.  Once it is ready, I thank the worker and grab my drink.  I go to class and since I'm a little early I sit there and check Facebook while I wait for class to start.  Since I'm a Senior too...I am suffering from major "senioritis"...so I surf Facebook and other internet sites while I wait for class to be done.  I go to my next class afterward and promptly get out one of my devices to check Facebook again.  There are people around me, and I just have short pithy "conversations" with those around me...I engage in hardly any really deep conversations. This is my life...the life of a millennial...

Is it wrong that I want more than this?  Is it wrong that I feel like I'm really missing out on things? This has been something I've been thinking about lately.  I took a class my Sophomore year at Northland called "Technology in Ministry"...but really it should have been called "The Theology of Technology."  In this class we basically spoke of the danger of overusing technology.  With the rapid rise of more and more technology, we are becoming a more and more "connected" people, who really aren't truly connecting with our fellowman. We think because we look through our newsfeed and see what a lot of people are doing that we are really socializing...and maybe we are, sort of...but are we missing something?

I believe we are.  Now, before I get into this in depth, I want to say that I love technology.  I have a Macbook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone.  I love my devices and they really do help me stay connected with my loved ones, but just like anything can become bad when it is used incorrectly, technology can do the same thing.  Technological advancements are wonderful, but they have the potential in our sinful hands to rule our lives...to take over so much of it that we loose our ability to interact with people in "real life" in person situations.  My sinful nature can turn any good thing into an idol if I let it.  And I know that I have allowed this to happen me. And I'm SURE that I'm not the only one who has found themselves struggling with this...

So what have I done to work through this?  To try to keep from falling into this?  Well first of all...every idol has it's roots in my spiritual life.  I'm not finding my joy in my fellowship with God, and so I'm running after an idol that I think will satisfy.  So first of all I need more of God's Word...more fellowship with Him in prayer...and more fellowship with the Body of Christ to build me up and encourage me.  If I take this out of the equation, it's just external behavior modification...I need to seek joy in my fellowship with God to truly overcome these idols that so quickly take over my life.

But there are some boundaries that I've set up for myself to help keep me from being drawn away by these idols.  Here are two things that I have done to try to keep from letting technology control my life:

  1. As much as possible I try to keep all devices away while I'm with other people.  I want to develop good relationships with people around me.  I want to share the Gospel with unbelievers that I interact with, and I know too quickly I can use my devices as a shield to keep me from doing this. I say "as much as possible" because there are some exceptions...for example, if there's some emergency or something like that. There are some other exceptions, but this is a general rule that I decided I want to follow.
  2. I have removed Facebook from my iPhone and iPad.  My primary reason for initially doing this was because my Facebook app has a section on my newsfeed that says "people you may know," and lately it has been suggesting people whom I have no common friends with, and many of them have very bad profile pictures.  So really, my motivation for doing this was for purity purposes...I don't want to be tempted to click on them and see things I shouldn't see.  And the other reason why is because my main reason for using my phone and iPad all the time is so that I can check Facebook...so if it's not on them, I'm not tempted to pull them out as often, or to stay on them for as long as I used to.
I know both of these things are pretty simple, and if I find that I continue to struggle with this, I may put more restrictions on myself, but for now I think these restrictions will do.

Since I started doing this, I've found so much enjoyment out of talking with people...I know that sounds ridiculous...shouldn't that be the way it always is?  But truly...God created us to be relational people...and when we deny ourselves that, I think it is really damaging to us.  We feel so isolated even from the person sitting next to us.

So friends...if you know me in person, keep me accountable.  If you see me pulling out my device when I'm with you, please remind me of the fact that I wrote all this.  And friends...try putting down your devices and really talking! Ask someone what God is doing in their life!  Talk with that lady sitting in next to you on the train...talk to that fellow student sitting next to you in class...don't hide behind your device in fear!  Speak truth into people's lives...give someone a hug. :)