I found myself sitting mindlessly in the recliner of my room the other night. I was just staring at the wall not doing much of anything. All of the sudden I snapped out of my blank stare and wondered what I was going to do for the 30 minutes before it was time for bed.
See, normally it is not hard for me to know what to do before I go to bed. Before bed is my “me-time” to catch up on some very crucial parts of life. A lot of times it’s not until before bed that I am able to check in with my social life—my social media life that is. I usually sit in my recliner and scroll and scroll and scroll with a few occasional double taps or the typing of a few words as I comment on the happenings of the day. I catch up on my text messages, tweet an update of how I’m feeling, and check the world news on Snap Chat. All in a night’s work, right? Then, right before I go to sleep, I throw on a Netflix show…on my phone. Currently it’s either been Bones or Girl Meets World. (So good. Both of them.)
All of these avenues of social media are great. I’m serious. I like them. A lot.
However, I’m not ignorant to the fact they take up a significant chunk of time out of my day. (Ok, maybe a little ignorant of it.)
Recently, my roommate showed me a video regarding the millennial generation, and it sparked reflective conversation between the two of us. We coach a high school swim team together, and we are always trying to help our swimmers grow into the best, most productive, hardworking teenagers we can help them become. In the midst of our conversation, I became very passionate over how the smart phone has begun to suck up valuable time amidst the lives of our swimmers. I had noticed that the phone was getting in the way of what we wanted to help accomplish as coaches. But honestly, I have an inkling that I was getting so passionate about the topic because I, myself, was feeling convicted of how much time I had recently been spending on my phone.
I knew it was too much. How did I know? Well, when my phone wasn’t by my side, I started to feel anxious. What if someone texted me and I missed it? What if my snap streak ended? When I wasn’t checking how many likes my latest Instagram photo had, my self-worth would begin to be attacked, and I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night without watching Netflix. Wow.
That very night, I told my roommate and my sister that I was going to start plugging my phone in across the room so I wouldn’t be on it before I went to bed.
Do you know how many nights I was able to accomplish this?
It was then I really realized how addicted I had become to my phone. And I thought if I am this addicted, maybe there are others.
After Christmas break, I knew I wanted to try something with my team. January is an extremely busy month for us. We have heavy competition, we have finals, and morning practices, all while trying to perform well and get ready for championship meets. I knew that my swimmers would have to have impeccable time management for the duration of the season, but also knew that was a lot to ask.
Between the millennial video and a busy January coming up, I was inspired to present a challenge to my swimmers.
The challenge was to delete a minimum of four apps from the phone that tend to take up too much time out of our lives, for six days. That’s it. Six days. A 100% optional challenge.
I wanted to make something very clear to my team though. Smart phones in and of themselves are amoral. Amoral means that it does not have a “moral sense”. Basically, a smart phone is neither a good thing or a bad thing. It just exists. With that said, know that I'm not saying a phone is a bad, evil object. Absolutely not. I have no grounds to say so if it truly is amoral. So, don't go and burn it tonight.
But I know human nature, and humanity at its heart is not good. This is why we need a savior—why we need Jesus. (Want to know more about this? Here is a great article explaining the basics of this truth.) Humanity is really good at taking an amoral object and using it for good or for bad.
In explaining this to my swimmers, I have tried to make it clear that I’m not asking them to just get rid of their entire smart phone. That would be ridiculous in this day and age. It’s more of a challenge for them to think about how they are choosing to use their smart phone.
You know what’s crazy? It has only been five days since I deleted some apps from my phone, and I have felt absolutely rejuvenated and refreshed. I have had time to abide with my Creator, have had time to write encouragement notes to others, have had nights of better sleep. Those times when I’m on the couch with someone else and I’m tempted to scroll on my phone because I’ve had nothing to say? Well, I’ve figured out something to say. And it’s been good.
I’m not sure where you’re at in your relationship with your phone. Maybe you’ve got it all under control, and maybe it doesn’t consume more hours than you know. If that’s the case, I give you props. Way to go. I know I’m not there…yet.
But if you have read this article and have felt that little twinge of knowing your phone may have a tight grip on your time, I wonder if you would maybe consider deleting one or two apps and filling the time with something else?
Because what has a more lasting impact?
Double tapping a photo on Instagram or letting someone know face to face what you like about them?
Catching up on the latest episode of Gilmore Girls before bed or getting a better night’s sleep by plugging in the phone across the room?
Keeping a Snap streak going or writing a note to someone that they could keep forever?
Maybe it’s time we start asking ourselves some questions that help us reevaluate what role our phones have taken in our lives. Maybe it's time we begin remembering that nothing can replace face to face interaction. Maybe its time we go against the grain of what society says is right and ok about our phones in order to experience the preciousness of interacting with those around us.