Meanderings of a Minister

How Is Your Phone Changing You? Part 11

I recently came across a book by Tony Reinke entitled, “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You”.  The title intrigued me because I have suspected some of this has been going on for years.  In the book, Tony is not anti-phone, but encourages the reader to be mindful of changes that are happening in us because of our use of our cell phones.

So far, we have considered that our phones are encouraging us to become addicted to distraction, have encouraged us to ignore flesh and blood relationships that require effort and risk on our part, and that they have encouraged us to crave immediate approval.  We have also seen that our phones are changing us is that they are robbing us of literacy and causing us to feed on the produced images others want us to see as well as changing us to become what we spend time with online.  Our phones are also making more connected when alone and more alone when we are with others.  They also give us the ability to engage in secret vices with virtually no one near us knowing what we are up to.  Our phones are also encouraging us to lose the context of meaning as well as causing us to become more insecure.  These are examples of how our phones are changing us.

The next area that Reinke mentions about how our phones are changing us is probably one of the first most people would think of when it comes to this issue.  Our phones are encouraging us to become harsh with one another.  By that, he means that we are quick to shame people.  We are also quick to wade into a discussion with no interest in the actual debate at hand, but only the desire to bludgeon the sender of the message with our need for attention.  We use harsh language.  We use our words to wound and not to bind up.

I teach a class at our local community college on customer service and workplace etiquette.  In this class, we talk about the use of technology to expand the reach of the business or organization and how you interact with others reflects what the other person thinks about your company of organization.  We state it strongly by stating, if your company entrusts you with a company email, they are putting the trust in you that you will represent them well.  They entrust the future of the company with that person, customer, or vendor to you.  How you treat that person will definitely affect what they think of your company.

As Christians, we represent not just a company, not just an organization, but we represent the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Our phones are encouraging us to be harsh with people.  That causes many, or reinforces the views of many, to think that Christians are harsh, brutal people who want to beat them up and shame them publicly for any sin they have ever committed.  They think that Christians care about no one but themselves and have no time for people who aren’t perfect.

When we are unnecessarily harsh with people, we close them off to any discussions with us that might lead to the change of their eternal address.  Like Jesus said of the Pharisees, “You travel the world to make a disciple, but then you make it impossible for them to come into the Kingdom.”

Instead, we ought to, “Do unto others what we would have them to do us.”  We should, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  When we are harsh with people, we violate both of these precepts taught by Jesus Himself.  When we unleash a verbal barrage meant to embarrass, shame, or bully people online, we are hardly showing forth the character of the One we are supposed to become more like each day.

James said that we bless God and curse our fellow man with the same tongue and this should not be so…even online.