Avoiding Smartphone iDolatry
We’re back with Trip Lee. Trip, “iLove,” is a tongue-in-cheek song about your iPhone. Over these years since, what habits have you put in place to ensure your phone doesn’t take up too much of your life, or distract you from your family, or distract you from God and the spiritual disciplines?
I wrote that song, “iLove”, because this was an area that I found is a struggle for me. So I wrote it as if my iPhone was my girlfriend, and she was kind of constantly grabbing for my attention. And that was just kind of a very real testimony for me in the way that I was feeling, and the kind of fight I had to put up in order to focus.
And so it can be hard for me, especially when I am on the road a lot, which requires lots of sitting around and waiting. I found that I have trained myself in any kind of free time to just grab my phone. And so I really do have to fight about it.
‘Do Not Disturb’
As far as my family life and spiritual disciplines, I don’t have really any kind of magic things. When I read the word and when I pray, I have to either leave my phone in another room or put it on “do not disturb.” I absolutely have to because I have found that I definitely will get distracted. It will vibrate and then I will kind of run to it, or even, the reason why I have to leave it out of the room sometimes, or turn the signal off, is that I get rabbit trails in my brain too. And I will convince myself I need to look something up. This is the power of Google on me: I never have to wonder anything. I can find out right now. And so any rabbit trail that pops up into my mind, I can pop right to.
And so I think, at the end of the day, I have to know myself and know myself well enough to know how it distracts me. And so I have to either have my phone off or out of the room when I am spending time in prayer and in the word because it will grab me.
And when it comes to spending time with my family, I have to do the same thing. I will admit that there have been times when I have looked up and realized I was looking down at my phone for fifteen minutes, and my son is playing right in front of me. Or I realize that I am not paying the amount of attention to my wife I should be. It is easy to get distracted. It really just takes intentionality and knowing myself and knowing when to kind of leave it out. And it is an ongoing fight for me. It is like I am not always great at it.
Use Your Phone Carefully
Are you more disciplined with your iPhone now than you were three years ago?
Absolutely. I am absolutely more disciplined now than I was three years ago. And me and my wife always have conversations about it. And we have kind of opened up in our life the perfect freedom to, at any time, rebuke each other when the phones grab too much with no hesitancy. And I think that has been really good for us because it has helped us to keep a good check on each other, and it’s one of the many ways I am grateful for my wife.
But I have noticed that even outside of time that I spend in the word, the more time I spend reading ten-second tweets and skimming random articles and reading pointless posts, it does affect my attention span when I then go to Scripture or try to read for long distances. So I have really tried to more and more train myself to have more disciplined use of my phone, and not just at all times, because I think it does kind of weaken some other muscles that I need for other good things in my life. So I am always just increasingly trying to think really carefully about how I am using my phone and praying God will help me to grow.