Warning: Battery Critically Low

My battery dies quickly. Its pretty annoying. Its not like I turn it on and it dies immediately but if I don’t watch over it with the care like that of a mother bear it will die. It bothers me sometimes, especially on Wednesdays when I have a late night dropping kids off and I need my phone to communicate to different people. There was a  Youth Conference I took my youth group to, it was so much fun and impactful. There was so many fun, memorable, inspirational moments that would have been great pictures….but they never happened. I never got to take some of them because my phone was either on the cusp of dying or already took the plunge. If I go without my charger I know that I will end up with a dead phone and I’ll have to revive it if I have any chance to live on. Take tonight (Sunday 11/23) for example, I locked my keys in the youth room, and in the midst of trying to get someone over to the church to unlock it my phone died…

Stupid phone…

So I had to wait until someone came (luckily there was something else going on that night) and unlocked the room. I was finally rescued and was free to go home.

Sometimes having a low battery life really stinks; it can hinder some great moments or the chance to connect with friends. But sometimes a low battery life can actually be a blessing. It keeps me looking people in the eye (or at least their general direction) when I talk to them instead of a screen. I am aware of the world around me, I drink in what’s going on with it instead of myself. It urges me to continue a conversation instead of running to my phone for entertainment. And because I have to engage people more I hear interesting facts and stories about the person; I have the opportunity to build a deeper connection.

Having a smartphone is great but with anything man made it can be used only to service the self. Due to smartphones we live a more isolated fragmented lives. We often retreat to these devices for entertainment, comfort but foremost familiarity. We are often people that stay in our comfort zone, who only engage things that are different when we are forced to. Studies suggest that younger generations (myself included) have a decrease in understanding non verbal messages and cues. That’s because most of our communication is online and through text messages.

Social Media (that is perpetuated by phones) is great in keeping people connected. But sometimes these relationships are shallow, and “staying connected” is boiled down to scrolling down a news feed then actually talking to the person. Even though we are more connected then ever (and have 1000s of people on our follow/friends list) how many of the connections are mere acquaintances  or people we just met once? How many people on our friends list do we have a honest deep connection with? How many people can we call on when we need help or advice.

Due to the always on/ always close-by nature of smartphones the temptation to stay on them is high. And why not? They are familiar, and bring instant comfort and happiness. This isn’t exactly bad, but it comes with a cost. To be on the phone we miss what is going on around us. We have an opportunity cost, do we spend ten minutes on the phone or spend it focusing on the physical world around us. And a cost of focusing on the phone instead of the world around you is you cut people off and can easily devalue the people around you. If your in a conversation or meeting and get on your phone, it instantly sends the message that whatever your doing on your phone is more important then engaging with the people around you. It lets the person know your not engaged with what they are saying or doing.  We don’t mean to communicate this message but that is how it comes across. Not only do we miss communicate our intentions to the people in the physical but we are totally different online.

Smartphones leave us fragmented. We often have two different lives, the physical one and the one online. We are usually more aggressive, more opinionated and less caring of others when we are online. We lose sight of the fact that we aren’t only engaging a computer screen but an actual human being. If we did remember this the internet might be different. When we realize that the things we do on the internet not only matter, but they don’t stay on the internet, we would act differently They bleed into our physical lives with either a positive effect or a negative one.

I want to end by saying smartphones are not inherently bad. I love my smartphone, I think it is a really helpful tool (especially the GPS!!). They can enhance our lives and our relationships with others. They often fill in when we can’t meet or talk in the physical. They are also great for a quick game when nothing else is going on or you need some time to detox. Games on phone can also be great in a group since it can easily be passed and everyone can enjoy it. The problem arises when the online is the foundation and cornerstone of our relationships and not the physical. So respect the people in the physical and don’t forsake the physical for the virtual. Remember people will remember more easily what you did for and with them in the physical then the virtual.

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