Every aspect of how we conduct ourselves – from personal interactions to the way we do business – has changed drastically in the last decade, all because of smartphones. We are navigating new territory. And as humans, we are painfully subject to the natural man. It is human nature to seek what is comfortable. In the past that’s been what’s kept us alive. It meant finding a safe place to rest your head at night or finding food for your child, or even sitting out on your front porch in the evenings to enjoy social relationships and human interaction.
Chances are you’ve rarely had to worry about a safe place to sleep or finding food. But our human nature is still hardwired to seek comfort. Since we already have excessive amounts of comfort in most aspects of our lives, we are naively sabotaging ourselves into unfulfilled lives of complacency with our overzealous quest for ease and entertainment. Netflix, anyone?!
So we may have some more time on our hands than our predecessors did. We don’t have to labor for hours in our gardens to have a meal. We don’t have to get out our inkwell and meticulously paint out a letter and send it off on the Pony Express to check on our grandmother.
And when was the last time you saw someone sitting out on their front porch, chatting with neighbors who walk by?
Probably not recently. Why would we labor tirelessly in our gardens when we can just stop by the grocery store? Why would we go sit outside and talk to our neighbors when we could interact with our 500 closest friends on Instagram? Or be serenaded by Justin Bieber on YouTube while sitting on our couch eating dinner? What we don’t think about is that we are missing out on the satisfaction and growth that comes from doing those “harder” things.
In 2 Nephi 28:21 we read, “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
Are we being pacified? Are our devices lulling us into carnal security and away from things that matter most? And slowly, are we being cheated out of greater learning, greater love, and a more meaningful life?
Everything about the way we conduct our lives has changed. No one in the history of the world has ever been afforded the convenience of the technology we hold in our hands or had to deal with the temptation of an all-powerful piece of machinery in our pockets that is the epitome of entertainment and a fraudulent masquerade for human interaction.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re straight up ADDICTED to your phone. Most of us are.
We have let ourselves fall victim to the ever-present device that we all “need.” We didn’t think about what side effects it might cause. And often, we didn’t think about how it might rip the things that matter most to us right out of our fingertips or rob us of better experiences.
Remember how growing up you had one house phone and it sat on a desk and now we all have our own personal phones that we stare at while we’re sitting in the living room “together” and we only part with it when we shower? Or how you and your spouse used to lay on your pillows at night and just talk and now one or both of you is always on your phone? Remember when you’d go on a family outing and you were satisfied just being there and enjoying the moment and now half the time you’re on your phone and it doesn’t feel like it really happened if it isn’t documented and posted on social media?
What tender moments are we missing out on?
Let’s be real. It’s affecting us. It’s affecting our kids and our marriages. It is affecting our minds. It’s affecting our self-esteem and our mood. It’s affecting our friendships and our families. It is affecting our futures.
So what can we do about it?
Six Tips to Change
Russell M. Nelson gave a talk in 1988 about addiction to drugs. He wrote a spiritual prescription for overcoming addiction. In his address, he gave six choices we can make – I am going to relate them to how we can overcome our addiction to our devices.
1. Choose to Be Alive
We have ONE life. ONE today. Instead of being obsessed with our social media presence, let’s be obsessed with living in the present moment, enjoying the beauty that is our lives and the people that are physically in it.
2. Choose to Believe
Choose to believe that you have a divine purpose in this life that is greater than followers or likes or pageviews.
3. Choose to Change
We can change our habits. We can fix our ADD attention spans. Our constant attachment to our phones is messing with us. Have you ever found yourself thinking in captions, constantly thinking what your next Instagram post will be, or checking your phone mid-thought or mid-conversation? That’s not normal or healthy, y’all.
4. Choose to Be Different
Accept the fact that you will be different. It may frequently be that you will be the only one not on your phone when you’re sitting with your friends and family or waiting in line at Chipotle. But what ripple effect might that have? Who can you smile at? What could you simply think about? Instead of being on your phone, what hobbies could you develop? Find ways to improve instead of letting your phone live your life.
5. Choose to Exercise
Choose to exercise your agency. You phone will draw you in. Usually just to check it or scroll though social media. Use your agency to stop yourself. Ask yourself- what am I going to do on my phone? Is it of utmost importance at this moment or can it wait? Are there people in my life right now that need my attention instead?
6. Choose to Be Free
Here come the blessings. Choose to be free from your phone controlling you. You can be free from the pull to check your phone every few minutes. Free from the anxiety and angst you feel if you forget to bring your phone along. You can be free from the weight and pressure of feeling like you have to document every cool thing you do, holiday, or milestone on social media.
Let’s enjoy the lives we’ve got. Let’s do something awesome and not post it on social media, but do it just because it’s our LIFE and we’re living it. Replace FOMO with YOLO. You can be present in the moment and take in all the beauty that’s around you. You can give your kids, your friends, and your family 100% of you while you’re with them.
So as Home Depot admonishes, “Let’s do this.” Let’s make a change and see how free we can be