Despite having a somewhat generic, listicle title, this book is a deep dive (from the theistic point of view) into how our phones, the internet, and being constantly (and instantly) connected is changing how we view the world, each other, and ourselves. While I won’t address each one, I’ll tease the book by including the chapter names:
- We are addicted to distraction
- We ignore our flesh and blood
- We crave immediate approval
- We lose our literacy
- We feed on the produced
- We become like what we “like”
- We get lonely
- We get comfortable in secret vices
- We lose meaning
- We fear missing out
- We become harsh to one another
- We lose our place in time
Fear Of Missing Out
‘When a sense of pain or suffering hits, we turn to our phones—and by turning to our phones, we exacerbate the pain, explains pastor Matt Chandler, a survivor of brain cancer. Imagine someone enduring prolonged suffering or depression sitting at home in his or her pajamas. “You crawl into bed, and you grab your phone. You start scrolling through your [social media] account. Here’s what you find: everybody’s marriage is awesome. Their kids are incredible. They’re counting money. And they don’t struggle at all. There’s no pain. There’s no sorrow. And here you are in your trial.”‘
This kind of thought is echoed in a later point (that I can’t find) about how we compare our online selves to that of others: We curate and groom our own public image online until we present the exact public persona that we want, but when we see the presented face of others, we tell ourselves that it’s the “real” them.
We Get Lonely
Another connecting point was in regards to how our instant access to anyone and anything in the world has changed how we experience loneliness.
“Even when we are with our closest friends and family members, we are drawn back to our online networks. (In the slow moments during vacations or gatherings, how many people can you find on their phones?) The smartphone is causing a social reversal: the desire to be alone in public and never alone in seclusion.”
This concept actually reminds me of a lyric to a song by one of my favorite bands:
“Loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused” – ‘Therapy’, Relient K
The idea that sitting in solitude is automatically equated with being lonely is something with which I know that I personally struggle. I also find it interesting that this also (seems to) fly in the face of the current mindfulness meditation trend (or at least my understanding of it): Being able to sit in solitude and reflect on your own thoughts, instead of “drowning” them out with silence.
Despite how it might sound, the book isn’t a condemnation of electronics/internet connectivity—The author outlines the ways in which we are being changed for the better—but a call for pause in how we spend our time and use our phones to interact (or not) with others.
Author: Tony Reinke