Friday, January 24, 2014

What's Not So Smart About the Smartphone

The smartphone has effectively taken the place of the Holy Spirit in my waking life these past few months I've started using it. It is difficult to be spiritually awake when it is within arm's reach. I find it takes the space in my spirit where prayer could otherwise be. I reach out for it and I reach out through it to search and discover. The gaze of the soul is always searching and pondering. The question is where we direct our attention. I find myself no more rested or filled when searching the surface of what the smartphone gives me access to because as a tool, the phone only offers access to surface things.

This is troubling when presentness is so very dear. The capacity to be immediate and present has been most important in leading worship, sharing a meal, teaching, and it is the soul of my current training in spiritual direction. There is very little presence in the smartphone, little to share.

As a venue for social media, the smartphone effectively facilitates a kind of voyeurism that is not unlike looking at porn. I worry that the bulk of my so-called social interactions are so hygienic and controlled. I mean the viewer's control. Real immediate interaction is messy and unpredictable, sometimes awkward and sometimes delightful. Real interaction usually requires work. Social media, like porn, makes you think you are experiencing intimacy when you are not. And further, it seems that social media may be as addictive for some as porn is for others.

So there's my bummer reflections. Maybe you have better experience than me? Congrats then.  In the past I tried to write too much in this space, to foresee all the angles and arguments. I'm going to try really hard to keep my posts tight by avoiding the temptation to be the last word on anything.

1 comment:

Noah Livingston said...

Thanks for writing, Josh. I resonate with the challenges you describe here. The power and possibility of the smartphone can be something of a rush...addictive, and hard to say 'no' to.

I think it's particularly difficult when you're 'home.'

Grace & peace