Smartphones, Spirituality, and the State of Our Souls
"What is that sound?"
My friend Sarah, guitar poised to begin a time of worship for our small writers retreat, looked behind her, perplexed and trying to identify the source of the alien-like noise.
Then I heard it: a bizarre, quite loud, staticky click-click-pop.
I hurried over to my purse and grabbed my phone, jiggering with it a bit until it finally stopped its whining and we could begin our singing.
See, in a world of shiny new smart phones–genius phones–my phone is squarely in the category of dumb phone. It is the dunce of all dunces: It has no touch screen, it doesn't text, it has nothing even close to an app. All it can really do is make and receive phone calls.
At least in the phone category, I'm way—and I mean waaaaaaaaaaaay—behind the times. But that's okay with me.
When an American school girl wrote to C. S. Lewis for guidance on how to become a writer, his number one word of advice to her was: "Turn off the radio." We can only wonder what Lewis—who strongly disliked the distractions of radio and television—would have thought of his stories portrayed through movies, digitally projected in high definition. Or DVRs, TVs, dish and cable and Netflix and Hulu. Or tablets, iPods, Powerbooks, and Skype! Today we live in a world that's shaped, and is continually being reshaped, by technology. Early adopters embrace it while traditionalists resist it. To some it's a great boon while to others it's a great danger.
Time and again, we're warned to strictly limit our kids' use of technology—we know too much (or even any) screen time can have detrimental effects on kids' brain development, emotional health, relational skills, and even their weight. But what about us? Does our technology usage affect us in similarly negative ways? And what about our souls? How is our spiritual health impacted by our digital choices?
What technology reveals about us
We each have weaknesses when it comes to technology, and the lure of wasting time watching too much TV is one of mine. While I try to be intentional limiting TV-watching time in favor of better pursuits, I must admit that I've also had seasons of 12-steps-worthy TV addiction. (Hey, it's tough to resist Masterpiece Mystery and Chopped!) I could blame it on my TV, but . . .