“What I am coming to understand is that this impulse to pull the lever of a random slot machine of viral content is the age-old tactic of Satan. C.S. Lewis called it the ‘Nothing’ strategy in his Screwtape Letters. It is the strategy that eventually leaves a man at the end of his life looking back in lament: ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.’”
“This ‘Nothing’ strategy is ‘very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years, not in sweet sins, but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them . . .’ Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 191). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
This past weekend at Edgewood we offered the third in our series, Uncluttered: Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room…and we talked about what it means to be uncluttered in our use of phones and computers, etc. As a follow-up, I thought it would be good to offer some tools to think through your smart phone/computer/social media habits. Tony Reinke compiles a few different lists of questions to ask yourself or others for just this purpose.
So…if you like, using these lists, take an hour or so before God to think about this area of your life. How are you doing? What, if anything, should change? You might pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)
If you have students in your home with smart phones, consider scheduling an hour together to talk about computer and phone usage.
May God protect us from Satan’s “nothing” strategy, from saying at the end of our lives: “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”
12 Smartphone boundaries to consider…
1. Turn off all nonessential push notifications.
2. Delete expired, nonessential, and time-wasting apps.
3. At night, keep your phone out of the bedroom.
4. Use a real alarm clock, not your phone alarm, to keep the phone out of your hands in the morning.
5. Guard your morning disciplines and evening sleep patterns by using phone settings to mute notifications between one hour before bedtime to a time when you can reasonably expect to be finished with personal disciplines in the morning (9 p.m. to 7 a.m. for me).
6. Use self-restricting apps to help limit your smartphone functions and the amount of time you invest in various platforms.
7. Recognize that much of what you respond to quickly can wait. Respond at a later, more convenient time.
8. Even if you need to read emails on your smartphone, use strategic points during the day to respond to emails at a computer (thirty minutes each at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for me).
9. Invite your spouse, your friends, and your family members to offer feedback on your phone habits (more than 70 percent of Christians in my survey said nobody else knew how much time they spent online).
10. When eating with your family members or friends, leave your phone out of sight.
11. When spending time with family members or friends, or when you are at church, leave your phone in a drawer or in your car, or simply power it off.
12. At strategic moments in life, digitally detox your life and recalibrate your ultimate priorities. Step away from social media for frequent strategic stoppages (each morning), digital Sabbaths (one day offline each week), and digital sabbaticals (two two-week stoppages each year).
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 200). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
10 diagnostic questions to ask in the digital age…
1. Do my smartphone habits expose an underlying addiction to untimely amusements?
2. Do my smartphone habits reveal a compulsive desire to be seen and affirmed?
3. Do my smartphone habits distract me from genuine communion with God?
4. Do my smartphone habits provide an easy escape from sobered thinking about my death, the return of Christ, and eternal realities?
5. Do my smartphone habits preoccupy me with the pursuit of worldly success?
6. Do my smartphone habits mute the sporadic leading of God’s Spirit in my life?
7. Do my smartphone habits preoccupy me with dating and romance?
8. Do my smartphone habits build up Christians and my local church?
9. Do my smartphone habits center on what is necessary to me and beneficial to others?
10. Do my smartphone habits disengage me from the needs of the neighbors God has placed right in front of me?
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 52). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Questions to ask before you post…
- Will this ultimately glorify me or God?
- Will this stir or muffle healthy affections for Christ?
- Will this merely document that I know something that others don’t?
- Will this misrepresent me or is it authentic?
- Will this potentially breed jealousy in others?
- Will this fortify unity or stir up unnecessary division?
- Will this build up or tear down? Will this heap guilt or relieve it?
- Will this fuel lust for sin or warn against it?
- Will this overpromise and instill false hopes in others?
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 107). Crossway. Kindle Edition.