Why I Told My iPhone to Shut Up
It was getting to be ridiculous. Every minute or two, it would light up, vibrate, ding or beep or buzz or something. And for some reason, each time, I felt compelled to reach out and pick it up.
Something …. something had to give!
Let’s Face It, We’re Addicted
Mobile devices have changed everything. Everything.
The first iPhone was released on the 29th of June 2007 and the iPad followed on the 3rd of April 2010. Just a few short years ago. And since then, they’ve revolutionised our lives.
Everything, the whole world, is available in our hand.
The weather, the satellite image (should I take an umbrella to walk across the road to the cafe?), the latest news, my Bible, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, music, videos, movies, books, photos, magazines, plane arrivals and departures …
I haven’t picked up a hard copy newspaper for two years. The latest Sydney Morning Herald is always on my iPad. And if I’m waiting at the bus stop, I can even read it on my phone.
And speaking of the bus, I check the live bus timetable that tracks the location of the buses heading towards my stop, and time the exit from my front door, to get to the bus stop just a minute before my bus arrives.
It seems these days that we just can’t be without our mobile devices. We all know that “cold sweat” sensation, when we realise that we’ve gone out without our phone.
Oh no! Now what am I going to do?
As though there was never a time when we weren’t connected to the world. It’s true, we’re addicted.
Dancing to the World’s Tune
And with these mobile devices come the … notifications.
That’s right. The ping and ding for every reason. And all those pings and dings and buzzes and brrrs come as default settings, part of the standard installation straight out of the box.
So every time you’re mentioned in one of your seven favourite social media apps, every time an email comes in, every time the weather changes, every time there’s a bid on an eBay item that you’re following, every time … your mobile device interrupts you, as though it’s doing you some great service.
And before you know it, you’re dancing to someone else’s tune. Instead of setting your own agenda and spending your time the way you choose, like Pavlov’s dogs, you’re responding to each and every stimulus with a standard response. And interrupt.
You’ve been there right? And it’s downright scary. (Especially if like me, you have a smart phone and a tablet that both go off … double the trouble!)
At what point did you and I become automatons that have to snap to attention at the demand of a machine?
So, what’s the answer.
Well, liberation for me came when a friend of mine – Bill – posted on Facebook that he’d switched his email notifications off.
And as blindingly, glimpsingly obvious as that now seems in retrospect, you know … it had never occurred to me that I could tell my iPhone and iPad to shut up!
So I did. I turned off email notifications first. What a blessed release that was!! Then Facebook and Twitter. Then the weather app. Then Instagram.
And before I knew it, peace and quiet had broken out in my life.
Peace and Quiet
Remember that? This crazy idea that you can sit at the table having dinner with your family, without being drawn to see who had just emailed you … or mentioned you on Facebook or Twitter.
Real peace and real quiet. It’s like reclaiming your life.
Somehow, we’ve fallen under this stupid spell that requires us to be connected to the world 24/7. What is that all about?
And the moment you really know you’re in trouble is when you’re praying, spending time with God (remember Him, the Creator of the Universe, the One who sent His Son to die for you) … they call this our quiet time with the Lord … and ding, an email comes in, so mid sentence, mid prayer, you drop Him like a hot potato to see what bit of junk mail just arrived, or who just mentioned you on Facebook.
Seems to me that you and I have more than enough turmoil in our lives, without robbing ourselves of a quiet time, alone with the Lord.
If there’s one thing you and I need in our lives, it’s peace and quiet.
“Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:8-11)
In that stillness, we discover who God is. In that stillness, we appropriate the awesome power of God to transform our lives.
Do we really want to give that up, to dance to the world’s tune? Really?!
Remember, you too can tell your iPhone/iPad/Android phone or table to … shut up.
Best thing I ever did to tell you the truth!
Bernie, I’ve been right where you were, and it took me just as long for it to occur to me to turn off all the notifications. I even turned off the little red circles on everything that would let me; they mock me until I open the app and read whatever I missed so they will go away.
I also set up a rule in my email client that deletes any e-mail that is not from one of my contacts. Sure, I’ve had to dig an occasional email out of the trash, but that beats perpetually wading through a flood of spam.
Very relevant to my life at the moment, with my new job that I started in April I got both the iphone and ipad plus laptop for work purposes, very tempting at times after work to check my work email. I have to conscious reminder myself that it is my time, to detach from work & reading work emails doesn’t help me and that the emails will be there in the morning.
Something I do with my Android smartphone is put it into flight mode every night as I go to bed. That way, I can use it as an alarm clock (it charges on a dock next to my bedlamp) without being continually hassled by notifications. Occasionally I’ll leave it at home on purpose when I go out, to get some relief from the continual distraction. Distinguishing between necessary and unnecessary uses is an important skill.
Great post Berni, I don’t allow my mobile to control my life; I only carry it, when I go out of town. I’ve had the occasional ‘facebook fast’ for a day or so and you know what, its helped me to break the addiction to be looking at it all the time. I don’t even miss having to be part of FB on a regular basis now!
Good one Berni! But the people who really need this most (as with most things) won’t have time to listen.
Thanks Berni. I recently got back on Facebook after having deactivated for 2 years and Im already regretting it. It consumes so much time and energy that could be invested elsewhere. Am currently trying to work out whether to again deactivate or whether to just try limiting myself to checking once a day. You’re right, it is an addiction!! God bless
I don’t have an iphone or ipad, but I do have a laptop and I am addicted to a certain game, any stress sends me there to zone out instead of to the Lord. I’m in a stressful season of life and going about regaining peace on the wrong path, but I cannot seem to quiet my mind. This causes more stress as the chores build and the guilt kicks in, I don’t have to think about anything or anyone, that is until I read this and have hope that I can find the strength in Christ to fast from this. I have good intentions to only read my emails and do my banking etc, but then I get sidetracked and stay on for hours. Might do a weekend break and throw in no sugar while I’m at it. God bless
So good Berni. I just love reading your posts. Thanks so much.