5 Reasons to Silence Your Cell Phone by Janet Denison
Sherry Turkle holds an endowed chair at MIT and “serves as a kind of conscience for the tech world,” according to a New York Times article. Her recent book, Reclaiming Conversation, is a self-help book for people who overvalue technology and undervalue the fundamental art of meaningful conversation.
This book lists important reasons to consider quieting our technology that every spouse, parent, friend, and family member needs to pay attention to. I’m writing about this topic because I think that the conversation crisis in our culture will also dramatically impact the church. Did someone text you the plan of salvation, or did you come to know Jesus after deep and meaningful conversations?
Even as I type I am picturing a large number of cell phones that are buzzing or dinging or ringing—right now. If that just happened, look Satan in the face, tell him to flee, and keep reading.
The NYT article summarizes the conversation crisis, saying, “Our rapturous submission to digital technology has led to an atrophying of human capacities like empathy and self-reflection, and the time has come to reassert ourselves, behave like adults and put technology in its place.”
We all know what it is like to be speaking with someone who regularly glances down at a cell phone during the conversation. We don’t mean to be rude, but what if the phone call is from…? Looking down at a cell phone says that whoever might be calling is more important than whomever you are actually with.
If you were sharing the plan of salvation with someone, would you interrupt that opportunity for a text message? We might not ever have the opportunity to share Christ if we treat our other conversations with that person any differently. Philippians 2:4 reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” When we speak with people, do they think we are more interested in them than a message on our phone?
Sherry Turkle lists five reasons why we need to carefully evaluate the impact of cell phones on our lives and our relationships, and I’ve listed some Bible verses to ponder as well.
1. People have adopted new technologies in pursuit of greater control, only to feel controlled by them. Ephesians 5:15-16: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Do we spend time we should be walking with the Holy Spirit on our cell phones instead?
2. Idealized selves that are created with social media leave real selves all the more isolated. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Looking down at a cell phone might seem like a way to look busy, important, or popular but it is really just another way to isolate yourself from someone God might have wanted you to connect with.
3. People communicate incessantly but are often afraid of face-to-face conversations. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Almost everyone is more careful about what they say to someone’s face than what they put in a text message or email.
4. Children develop better, students learn better, and employees perform better when their mentors set good examples and carve out spaces for face-to-face interactions. 1 John 2:20 says, “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.” The Holy Spirit is the most important source for information in our lives. In my own experience, he has never spoken to me in a text message.
5. Through conversational attention, people acquire a sense of enduring connectedness and a habit of talking about their feelings, rather than simply acting on them. One of the first verses in our Bibles is Genesis 2:18. God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” The Lord God was not referring to a cell phone.
Stop and look around the sports arena, the school cafeteria, the mall, or even the church parking lot. As Christians, called to share our lives and our witness with others, are we connecting with people like we should? Does a small electronic device seem more interesting than the child at your feet or the spouse at your side? Does your cell phone exert too much control on your life and drain too much of your time each day?People matter most. When we stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment, not one of us will glance down at our cell phone. A challenge: Leave that phone in your purse, your pocket, or—better yet—at home or in the car. You might have a meaningful conversation with God or someone else as a result. Why did I think it was important to write this blog post?
“So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:4). Amen??