By Russell Meek
Smartphones are amazing, with their unfettered access to the whole world right there in your hand.
They also change us in some profound and disturbing ways. Just Google it. Seriously.
I dumped my smartphone a few months ago. It was the most recent in a long list of addictions I’ve parted ways with: opiates, alcohol, junk food, in that order.
I’ve never been diagnosed with an addictive personality, and I don’t even know if that’s a thing. But I do know I really, really like to feel good. It turns out I’d traded in each addiction for the next, less obviously damaging one.
My smartphone didn’t damage my life in the same overt ways that, say, taking Vicodin did. But after a few months off the drip, I’m glad I got rid of it anyway.
1. I look at my wife and kids more.
I’m ashamed to admit this, so I’ll blurt it out first. I look at my family more. God’s been good to me, giving me a wonderful woman to live life with and three little boys to love.
I don’t mean to be saccharine or hokey, but they light up my life in much better, more significant, and longer-lasting ways than a blue screen does.
2. I’m less anxious.
I suspect that’s because I’m less tuned in to the latest social media controversy. I do keep up, of course, but now I have to do it on my computer.
The access isn’t as easy or as pervasive as my smartphone made it. I’m certain the buffer created by not having access to social media literally in my hands has also caused me to sin less.
It’s hard to tame my tongue, and the smartphone, unfortunately, enabled some of my worst parts.
3. I read more books.
I read mostly on a Kindle (did you know that most public libraries let you check out Kindle books?), so in a sense, I’ve traded one screen for another, and I haven’t changed the amount of time I spend on a device before bed.
Plus, I read books for fun, not for some noble and godly pursuit like growing in holiness. I just like the stories.
There have been other benefits, like learning my way around town (no Google maps!) and talking on the phone instead of texting. (Texting on a flip phone is as bad as you remember. Maybe worse.)
I’m certain I miss out on some stuff also, like funny gifs that some of my friends send me, or videos of my kids my wife films, or being instantly up to date on the latest denominational kerfuffle.
All in all, though, it’s been good to trade in my smartphone for the military-grade, waterproof, shock-proof hunk of plastic I carry around now (when I remember it).
RUSSELL L. MEEK (PhD Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a speaker, writer, and professor who specializes in the Old Testament and its intersection with the Christian life. You can visit him online at RussMeek.com.