A few weeks ago, I bought my first smart phone with an unlimited plan, so I can finally text for the first time ever (without it costing me for each text, anyway – my last cell phone was five years old!). Before getting the phone, I thought I would call on it, text on it, and occasionally download on app. Well, let’s just say the first night I had it, I spent hours exploring different apps and downloaded a ton of interesting things. Eric and I texted each other from the next room (just because we could) and, at one point, we were sitting in the same room… not talking… and each looking down at the new gadget in our hand with awe. That’s some smart phone love right there.
Such an experience is not uncommon after getting a new toy, but from what I’ve noticed from other people, it is so hard to ignore a phone, especially one that does everything. Before I walked into the world of smart phones, I found myself amazed and perplexed at how so many people were tied to their phones. There were a dozen different rings for a dozen different things and it seemed like conversations were constantly interrupted by a beaconing buzz. Now that I have one myself, I understand more than ever the temptation that comes with owning a smart phone that does everything.
Yesterday morning at church, I had to force myself to leave my phone in my purse, but it drove me crazy! “What if I’m missing a text?” kept crossing my mind. What would happen, if I had missed a text, is that I would’ve texted the sender back later. Problem solved! Here I am… someone who has spent years not understanding the fascination with these phones; yet, as soon as I get one, I’m the worst, most distracted smart phone owner ever! I eat those former words every five minutes… as I check my phone.
I’m sure that after I have my phone for some time, it won’t hold the same fascination for me that it currently does. However, I can still see myself struggling with the need to constantly check it. This is something I will have to strive to control. A friend of mine shuddered when I showed her my new phone. She jokingly, and wryly, told me I had crossed over to the dark side. ~smile~ She said her main contention with such phones is that people who have them are always looking at them. It is hard to have a meaningful conversation with someone who is always looking down at their phone… and that brings me to my point….
Let me caution you, as I also caution myself, to not let your distracting technology take over your life. It is more possible than ever to be physically present near someone and still not communicate with them. A husband and wife can be in the same room all night and barely grunt at each other between the television, computer, phones, and other gadgets. There is nothing inherently wrong with such technology; however, if they keep you and your spouse from having meaningful conversation and time together, they have taken over and need to be dethroned from your life. How many times have you been interrupted by others constantly looking down at their phones? How many times have you interrupted others by constantly looking at your phone?
In the grand scheme of life, smart phone utilization may not seem like a big deal; nevertheless, I would recommend that you keep technology within a safe boundary (and this does not mean to put a protective case around your phone – though, you should do that too!). If you are finding yourself spending time with your techno-toys to the exclusion of others – especially your significant other – then it’s time to create some firm boundaries for yourself.
The propensity to trade relationships for objects is dangerous. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but if years pass and you’ve spent more time bonding with your technology than with your spouse, you may find that they quit texting you back… or calling you back… or e-mailing you back… or responding at all. Don’t lose a close connection with him or her because you always had one more e-mail to write, one more video game level to complete, or one more television show to watch. Additionally, if you’re not yet married, then avoid starting such habits from the start!
If you are struggling in this area, then ask your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancée, or spouse how much time he or she thinks is reasonable for you to be on your technology… and make an honest attempt to limit yourself to that. The time allotment will likely be much lower than you will desire (or think is reasonable), but the relational dividends may likely outweigh the sacrifice and pay handsomely! Note: this limiting does not count for work purposes; however, if you’re stuck on your technology after normal working hours, then that time does count.
The gadgets you have now that seem amazing will be technologically outdated in six months… but there will never be a new, improved version of your spouse to upgrade – the one you have is the one you keep – more than a two year contract. You have them for a short lifetime, so be sure to rank them where they belong… and leave your toys where they belong – as part of your life, which assists you, and not your whole life, which consumes you.
By your actions, who/what do you love more: your significant other – or your technology?