Does Your Phone Define You?

by Sunil Robert

What makes India run on Watsapp? Not only nearly everyone is on Watsapp, this application is making many businesses. Some Banks, schools and other organisations now reach out to their audiences on this channel. Young people are the largest user base of Watsapp around the world. Whether it is Facebook, Watsapp or Twitter young people are the fastest adopters of any communication channel, and it has nothing to do with education, wealth or status.

So if you are wanna be a “cool dude”, or “hep chick” smart phone and apps are the “in thing”! Right? Wrong. According to a wise dude, who was the coolest during his era said, “There is nothing new under the sun”. When you rush to download the newest app, or try to talk in the newest lingo, remember each generation has gone through the same cycle. There are fads, fashions, trends and changes that differ in their expression but “Change is constant.”

Phones and apps weaken relationships

So is there anything wrong being a fast adapter? No but there are three dangers that may come upon you, if you are not always watchful. First, the self-absorption that smart phones and apps create weakens relationships. Contrary to what people think, Messaging apps do not always share messages. Yes there is information exchanged like flotsam and jetsam but deep heart to heart communication still happens the old fashioned, way – Face to face. So get off, Facebook, shut your phone off and try building friendships without any technology. Like with Parents, extended family and your best friends. Make eye contact, not occasionally looking up from your screens while texting away or typing away on your keyboard. Today, information overload is not just overwhelming young minds but also weakening relationships. Instead of forwarding jokes or reading them out from your phone, try narrating jokes verbally and connect with friends and see the difference.

Selfie Syndrome is a Virus

Secondly, the selfie syndrome is another virus that creates a personality anxiety disorder. This perennial pressure to take pictures and post to the world seems stems from a deeper fear of insignificance. You may have seen jokes that exaggeratedly point out that today, people take selfies at accident sites and even funerals. Happy occasions are great for selfies but ask yourself, if this selfie virus is getting out of control. There is no place that is sacred or formal enough where people don’t pull out their smart phones and click. Pictures are visual reminders of memorable moments. But selfies trivialize them and creates waves of personal obsessions. Next time you are in church or a formal setting, resist flipping out the phone and try and soak in the memory with your mind’s eye and brain’s camera. There is a side benefit as the sermon or the image is stored in the largest disk in the world, your brain. Selfie’s constantly put the focus back on us to the point of distraction. Don’t worry, the world has not forgotten you and your selfies do not necessarily remind anyone because everyone else is busy looking at their own selfies.

Selfie Syndrome is a Virus

Finally, the biggest peril of these smart phones is the constant dependence it creates on the tool. Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The next time fear grips when you lose your iphone or Galaxy for a short period, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen to me?” Whose important calls are you scared of missing out? Or is it the many meaningless forwards that entertain you? As a generation that is just submerged in technology we must know that these are just tools to educate, inform and entertain ourselves. Try and avoid

When you ping God, He does not multi-task. When God pings back, don’t let your status be, “Away.”

multiple channels and too many touch points with the same people.

There used to be an outdated communication channel called “the Books” and many generations through the history have used “the Books” to inform, educated and communicate their ideas. Those tools sharpened memory, tested our wit and lasted through time. Some ideas that I picked up through “the Books” continue to define me. When I go through a storm of difficulties and feel shaken up completely, the ideas and beliefs that shaped me through “the Books” keep me grounded and focused. Today, we are learning through the phone and I am worried about how deep some of our defining beliefs are? Do we rush too fast to be distracted and entertained or do we take enough time to stay disconnected and develop our mind, spirit and body? The next time you are working out at the gym, instead of playing music in your phone, try working out with a buddy and see the difference. Instead of constantly drowning yourself with information, try taking a long walk alone, without reaching out for the phone to take pictures and post.

When I sit in church my focus should be on God, when I am at dinner, my focus should be on folks around my dinner table. When I am with friends, the ability to focus on them is a gift you can give them. Your attention is an indicator about how much you care about that person. If you multi-task with your phone, you are insulting that individual. Have you ever wondered what it is to be present, with all your heart, mind and soul – riveted on a person bigger than everything you own, dream and aspire to be? Try and disconnect from your phone, to engage with God. When you ping God, He does not multi-task. When God pings back, don’t let your status be, “Away.”

Listen buddy, we are the most connected generation through history, yet the most lonely. Why is it that with all these sounds and alerts we crave for that deep and rich fulfillment that leaves a lasting impact? The answer maybe that we have learnt to connect but we have not learnt to charge from the right source? Turn on the power switch to God, when He refreshes you, a feeling of delight overflows from within your heart. All your apps become purposeful because you connect with an intention to love, serve and help.

Phones and Love Affair

Above all, remember all these apps want a share of your mind, your attention, your time – in other words everyone is wanting to make money out of you. You may say, Watsapp is free, but aren’t you paying with your precious hours that are priceless? If you are smart, if you want to be the new cool, don’t let your phone define you. You define your worth from a higher Power, higher Creator, and a God who made you, loves you like crazy and would like to ping you. Each time you invest a few minutes on a Watsapp chat or a facebook loop, remember you are paying a price! Whether it is small or huge is a function of how deep your love affair is with your phone.

In the final analysis, those who stay strong in the hard moments are those who take time to learn, to reflect, to study and love God, his word and possess the discipline to switch gears. Perhaps it’s time to go on a technology fast, that too real fast!

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