Throw Your Phone Away

Part two of This

So returning from Cambodia i decided to eat my words and get rid of my smart phone for a season to see if it would improve my relationships. So instead i got a non-smart phone. In fact i would describe it as a dumb phone, as to the amount of things it can do. I got so used to doing everything with the weird rectangular thing in my pocket that when I took away my own super powers of search/note-taking/connecting/photographing/pooptweeting i got frustrated at my mortality. I can’t know what’s going on wherever in the world, i can’t remind myself, i can’t play games when things get awkward or even to make them awkward.

I found myself at a show the other day that i was photographing, only knew three people there and they were busy. So i awkwardly stood there, wishing i had my smart phone. It hit me – i had forgotten how to woo a crowd of strangers. The thing i used to love most. And although Canberra was easier to do that in because i grew up there, I should be able to do it where ever. But instead i sat on the couch arm, resolved to be awkward.

But at the same time i got to watch and listen. most of the crowd was made up of recently out of school young people. They got into circle packs and talked about life.

I was driving a car the other day to a location i had never been before. My security usually lies in the fact that my smart phone has a gps in it so i never get lost anymore. #nope this new phone can’t even spell GPS, so i needed to find a map.

I wanted to record a little song i was writing, went to get my phone that records sound. #nope new phone barely lets you here your brother in melbourne. So i had to get my computer out.

I wanted to take notes at church #nope, borrowed lukes iphone and emailed myself the notes.

Needed to remind myself to do some important things. #nope, can only set an alarm and then when it goes off i’ve forgotten what it was. Then wake up and realise i was supposed to wake up four hours ago.

Wanted to find out if Kosovo was an official country. #nope.

So without a smart phone i kept finding that i couldn’t do as much. Things that before the phone came i was still doing, but it just took longer, or wasn’t as effective. BUT.

Did it improve my relationships?

I was sitting with a man i highly respect, talking about nothing in particular and his phone rang. He looked at it, hung up on the person and looked me in the eye again to continue the conversation.

For the week i didn’t have credit, i started forgetting to take my phone every morning. It was liberating. Not to be contactable unless i chose. Unless people walked up to me in person or whilst i was at the office, email.

Then the moment came, when i needed to get credit. I got a saddened text from someone i love who is in an interesting place. So i got credit with my credit card over the phone. (No more news-agencies for this guy) And as we had out 20 or so sms conversation i realised. Emotions, voice inflections, comfort, and laughter all go out the window in 140 character text messages. The situation warranted more then that. Even when i hit the 280 character mark, it still wasn’t enough.

I want to hold people, and hear their laughter. I want to have loud arguments and soft encouragements.

The other thing i have realised is, even if my typing almost keeps up with my brain thinking speed for journalling, touching pens and paper makes it better and more real. As if if goes further into my heart and mind when i get revelations in quiet times. Easy versus Deep.

When i get my camera out and take photos with it, it feels better then the electronic noise for a shutter. I have more control over it. It sits nicer in my hand.

When i set up to record it feels more legit, i take it more serious. I learn more.

When my brain remembers things for itself, i usually do the things quicker and better and with less snooze buttons pushed.

When i have to read a whole book to figure out that yes, Kosovo is indeed a nation, or that no you probably shouldn’t study economics at university just yet. I remember things more because of the ffort put in to find these things.

Not to say i can’t learn a lot from research on the internet. It just doesn’t seem to go deep in my brain whilst i’m in the bathroom or trying to eat and google or the best one, years ago (of course) whilst driving. But it just seems like i take more in when i go out to learn, not just entertain me on the 10 minute train ride.

I feel like i want to rid myself of a phone altogether like my Dad did until he was 53. Or at least just leave it at home. But then i know that would annoy people like it frustrates me.

I feel like i want to de activate my facebook account for a while. Because friendships need to get deeper not wider and shallower.

I feel like i want life to get more kinesthetic.

But – without my phone i miss out on my brothers weekly calls. And messages for help.
But – without facebook i miss out on knowing what my international friends are doing.
But – technology can help life do more, see more, learn more. I just need to know more and more that there needs to be boundaries.

Flesh and blood needs to take precedence over electronic robots.
Flesh and blood needs more of my time then thousands of mere face pixels.

But with all of these thoughts, like agriculture – are relationships more powerful when we keep it tight knit, and concentrate on the few instead of the many?

Theres power in the masses, But there is also power in intimate communal holiness. That echo of the trinity.



5 thoughts on “Throw Your Phone Away

  1. This is so true! I had to go without the smarts of my smartphone in Singapore for a month because I couldn’t get 3G, and it was agony. But like you said, it made me realise how lazy I’d become with relationship and learning. Right on!

  2. I enjoyed this one so much, I saved it for the future. It speaks well to your and many people’s wrestling with the role of technology in their lives. It seems to me that the very ability to think about it is sort of like metacognition (the ability to think about how we think). As we grow in our ability to think about how we think, we are able to understand what is helpful and what is not. Seems to apply to technology as well. Thanks!

  3. I love this post. Something I also struggle with. I hate my reliance on my phone. I hate that I spend so much time using the phone, and half the time I think I should get rid of it, or trade it in for a basic old nokia. But then, I wouldn’t be able to keep up to date with friends and family overseas, I wouldn’t have my bible in my pocket, or the devotionals. I wouldn’t be able to capture those spontaneous moments that make me glad to have children.
    Maybe I just need to delete all those useless game apps!

  4. If man has the control over the modern communication technologies, they are a blessing and make life easier. But it was not the intention that they should control us. If they do, we need to change something, because otherwise they are becoming a curse …

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