Have you noticed how, everywhere you go, you’ll see people walking around with their heads down, eyes riveted to the small screens of their phones?
“Huh, what? Did someone say sunset? Quick, get a photo of it and get it on Instagram! Oh and don’t forget to choose a snazzy filter, because this sunset made by the Creator of all sunsets isn’t quite good enough for Social Media!”
Servant or Master?
So many people live under the tyranny of the phone and social media – and I don’t use the word tyranny lightly.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking social media – it can be an excellent and useful tool, but we seem to have forgotten that that is what it is intended to be; a tool.
The phone is our servant, not our master. We need to take back charge.
Love The One You’re With
Once upon a time, long ago in the days before cell phones and social media, a lady from our church was sitting talking with me in our living room, when the home telephone started to ring. She paused, looked at me to see what I was going to do and on seeing that I had no intention of answering it, she continued talking. Actually, when I say she continued to talk, I mean she finally really talked. For the first time in many years; she opened up and shared with me the very painful experience that had caused her to become so shut down. We were able to pray together and she left with a new lightness in her step because God had healed that wound in her heart. As she left she hugged me and said something that I will never forget: “Thank you for not answering the phone. It made me feel so valued. I’ve never felt valued or important”
Do we really have to see, right away, who’s calling, texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, or how many likes we have on our latest Instagram post? Or can it wait until later?
If I spend more time looking at the ‘face’ of my smartphone than the face of the person I’m with, I’m saying ‘this is more important to me than you are’.
How many family dinners, bedtime stories and romantic coffee dates are interrupted or ruined because of a ringing phone? In fact it isn’t the ringing phone that’s the problem, it’s our choice to answer it.
If you think about it, how many phone calls have you answered that are genuine life changers? If it really was an emergency surely your friend would call emergency services? And it’s unlikely that the person ringing you will be offended that your phone is off – if they really do need to get hold of you they’ll try again in an hour or so, or leave a message.
Social media can be a really useful tool, especially for small business owners and bloggers, or it can be a really destructive one; and the choice is completely ours!
It’s finding that balance, isn’t it? But one thing’s certain, Facebook and Twitter ‘friends’ can’t give you a hug when you need one. They can’t pop the kettle on and make you a cup of tea, pray with you, and then tell you to get up, dust yourself off and get back out out there!
Facebook and Twitter cannot replace real-life fellowship, within the local church.
I’ve seen some disturbing posts on social media. I saw a post on Twitter recently where a guy said “I don’t need to go to church, I’ve got all of you guys, this is my church” – to complete strangers that he has never met and probably never will meet. It’s heartbreaking really. This same person constantly tweets harsh words about fellow Christians – authors, well known speakers and church leaders.
The book of Proverbs has something to say about the person who cuts himself off from meaningful connection with others in this way.
Proverbs 18:1-2 “An unfriendly person isolates himself and seems to care only about his own issues. For his contempt of sound judgment makes him a recluse. Senseless people find no pleasure in acquiring true wisdom, for all they want to do is impress you with what they
Silence That Phone
When my children were very little there were no cell phones. Once you left your house that was it, no one could phone you! We could go on a family day out and be uncontactable! Sheer bliss. Sometimes I lament and say “Oh I wish I could go back to being uncontactable”- but actually, I could if I really wanted to! It comes down to making the choice to use that ‘Silent’ switch. And to leave my phone in my bag until later.
I’m very grateful to have a nice phone with a good camera in it. I use social media for my blog and my Etsy shop, and three of my four children live abroad, so in truth it would be counter productive for me to be completely uncontactable – but for a few hours in the day here and there? Surely I can do that!
Lord, I’m making the choice today, that I will not allow my phone to be ‘the boss of me’.