As notifications on my iPhone kept piling up, making it hard to ever put down – as the memes became danker and danker by the day, making it impossible to not scroll – my sanity was suffering. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over dramatic. But for real, this iPhone had become like a limb to me, an extension of my arm. Can’t go anywhere without it, yet kind of want to chuck it into an ocean, like rose and her heart necklace.
I was sitting in silence after a FIRE message at Bridgetown Church in Portland when the pastor asked us to consider something in our life that if God asked us to give it up, we wouldn’t want to. What was that one thing (or many things) that we’re tied to? That thing that we go to instead of God. As I was listening for the Lord to speak to me, all I heard was “iPhone”. Immediately I was like…oh, crap…nahhhh that can’t be right (PS that’s when you know, it’s definitely right). I just knew. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was going to have to cut it out of my life for a little bit. God asked me to give up my iPhone for a little while that day, and it took me two weeks to finally do it.
When I went in to the Verizon store with my brand new iPhone asking to please switch my service over to the hottest flip on the market right now (Exalt II – in case you’re wondering), the man helping me goes…”um, why? Is your phone broken?” No, my phone wasn’t broken, but it was coming in between me and Jesus, and I just can’t have that. Causing me to stumble? Cut that ish off. So, with much confusion this poor man helped me switch my life over to a flip phone. Now, complete transparency, I still kept my iPhone, it just didn’t have service on it. So I could still use it in wifi. But believe me – I felt the pain. BIG TIME.
I kept my flip phone for a little over a month, and dang, did it teach me some things. Starting with this: doing life without a smart phone is honestly hard. Our world just isn’t set up for it anymore. Like realizing that I GPS literally everywhere I go, realizing that flip phones don’t take good pictures…AT ALL, realizing that flip phones don’t have Uber or my bank app or my email or google or ANYTHING. Nothing. You want to make a call? Great, it can do that. You want to send a text? Don’t make it a long one unless you want your fingers to hurt (see insert below – I had to), but yes, it can do that. Stops there though. The world we live in right now is just not set up for a dumb phone, and it’s really hard to get around with one.
I called my friends more…WAY more. Like, so much more. I actually am at the point where I enjoy talking to my friends on the phone now. Before I was just like, UGH text me, don’t call me, what are you a psycho trying to call me? But honestly, it’s really hard to text long messages with T9word, and it’s definitely not updated with modern lingo. I became a whole lot less funny, and a whole lot more serious via text. My best friend goes “yeah, you’re just like…real straight to the point, and seem angry all the time.” HA! OH, and the emojis…very limited options. OH, and don’t even think about someone sending you memes because you won’t be able to even read what they say. Communication via text plummeted, real communication sky rocketed.
I read more. I honestly had moments when I was almost trying to get sucked into my flip phone, like just wandering around on there trying to find entertainment. But you can only change your background screen so many times before you’re bored again. Flip phones are literally impossible to have the addictive pull that smart phones have. And so, I would sit my phone down, stare at my wall, and be like, okay, I guess I’ll read. I love reading. I always have. But with my iPhone always on me, and Netflix always in my pocket, its made reading almost like the step child of entertainment (no offense to step children. I’m thinking Cinderella here). So, I read a lot more.
I was at such peace. Wow, I really felt so much peace. A pervasive peace. I think it was the lack of distraction, the decrease in information being beamed into my face minute by minute, the lack of comparison, the lack of feeling like I had to be connected. I feel like my mind was just constantly engaged with God. It was just such a good feeling to go to the grocery store, and not think about anything other than grocery shopping. It was such a good feeling to go for a walk and not think about anything other than walking. I was so much more engaged in my current activity, very present. When I would go out to dinner with friends, I wouldn’t look at my phone once – not even once. I felt light, and I began to realize that sometimes I think these smart phones can start to feel like bricks, just pulling us down, a heavy, ever present weight.
After a month of being cut off, and my best friends telling me they miss being able to connect with me through various memes and such (the feeling is mutual), I believe that it’s time I re-enter the smart phone world, but with a whole lot more caution. I have no desire to go back to the constant connectedness. I’ll continue to call my friends when I want to talk to them. I’ll continue to read instead of instantly reach for Netflix. I’ll put my phone away, and keep my phone away when I don’t actually need to use it. I’ll stop scrolling when scrolling stops serving me. I’ll keep pursuing constant engagement with God.
Smart phones aren’t all bad, inanimate objects don’t hold the weight of good or bad – our interaction with them does. I think this month has given me great perspective in how good they can be, but I’ll forever be evaluating my relationship with my phone. In other news, I have a brand new Exalt II for sale. Because you’re allowed to unplug for a little while too.
Below is a fantastic TED RADIO HOUR about all of this:
And this is the message that you don’t want to listen to if you want to keep doing what you’re doing: