This past week, I read this article about how one woman got rid of her cellphone “and really started living.” While that statement seems a touch overly-dramatic, this was her reasoning:
I didn’t get rid of it for some hipster-inspired Luddite ideal or because I couldn’t afford it. I cut myself off because my life is better without a cellphone. I’m less distracted and less accessible, two things I didn’t realize were far more important than instantly knowing how many movies Kevin Kline’s been in since 2010 at a moment’s notice. I can’t be bothered unless I choose to be. It makes a woman feel rich.
Though she says she didn’t give up her phone to be cool or anti-establishment, she definitely writes with an air of pride about her old-fashioned lifestyle. Still, she makes some fairly good points about the benefits of putting down the smartphone. You’ve probably been the victim (or possibly perpetrator) of a rude smartphone moment. You’re having coffee with a friend and she keeps answering the constant buzz of text messages, or another friend’s eyes are glued to the screen (instead of your face) as you speak.
While you may not be ready to go full-on landline yet, here are five circumstances where you should ditch your smartphone:
1. On a date. I remember being on my honeymoon and seeing a couple sitting in the airport, side-by-side, on their phones. I thought they were crazy. I didn’t have a smartphone at the time and couldn’t imagine preferring my phone over my partner.
Nowadays, I have to intentionally put my phone away when we’re out together. Otherwise, I’m tempted to multitask by browsing social media or checking email. It’s a bad habit, but it’s one worth breaking. Even at home, we can sometimes both be on the couch on our phones, missing out on a relational opportunity.
2. At church. I shouldn’t even have to include this one, but I’ve been guilty. I know you’re thinking: But my Bible is on my phone! That is all well and good, but the people around you may not know that, and pulling out your cell phone in church sends a message.
A few weeks ago, I was at a ministry event. The leader stepped up on stage and started scrolling on his phone. He was looking at notes he’d prepared for his speech, but the second he looked down, feelings of unimportance washed over me. Those in ministry should think twice about depending on their phones, because of what it unintentionally communicates. Why not rely on a good, old-fashioned, hard copy of the Word of God instead.
3. At a restaurant. Many of us have been guilty of setting our trusty phones on the table during a meal at a restaurant. I understand if you’re expecting an important call, but it better be really important (like a parent calling you with an update from the hospital, in which case you should probably be at the hospital.) Because sharing a meal is rife with relational opportunity, it’s a great time put away the phone and focus on those around the table.
4. At a movie. Just don’t do it. There’s nothing worse than spending $12 on a movie and having someone blind you with their screen.
5. With a friend. Recently, I heard of someone who makes time with friends a phone-free zone. It’s always awkward to feel like the third wheel with your friend’s phone, and choosing to be unavailable to others so you can be available to your friend conveys value.
Maybe totally giving up your phone isn’t for you, but a partial separation may be in order. Think about Philippians 2:3, which says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” That can be difficult to do when you’re glued to your phone. Choose some key times to unplug and just be in the moment with others.