Two more posts on 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You. Today, let’s discuss how our phones distort reality and blind us to others’ needs.
“While there are many ‘one anothers’ in the Bible, ‘compare one another’ is not one of them, and yet this is the direction we tilt online. We celebrate celebrities. We disdain nobodies. With those most like us, we grow envious and harsh.”
Before Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg created a website that showed two women’s pictures side-by-side and allowed users to rank them by appearance. He has called it a prank website and unrelated to the development of Facebook…and maybe it is.
Either way, I think it’s telling that social media in general has become a place where we compare ourselves to one another. I love seeing my friends near and far experience life’s exciting milestones; I’m truly happy for them and love seeing their smiling faces.
But because I’m watching their highlight reel on a tiny screen while my 3D life includes lackluster things like laundry and spilled milk, I forget that they have 3D lives, too. And part of me starts to feel like my life doesn’t measure up.
“Comparing ourselves is a social evil that thrives among socioeconomic peers. Among such peers, envy is not merely wanting what others have, but wanting it because they have it…This sin insidiously aims at destroying others’ goods and gifts in light of my own loss and lack.”
I’m not sure if my digital envy has reached the level of not wanting others to have good things, but I know that my desires are influenced by what my peers have. Shouldn’t we have bought a house by now? Should I be buying organic vegetables?
As humans, we are endless navel gazers. And closely watching everything others do only helps us look more intently at ourselves–meaning we look outward less and less.
“In the digital age, we are especially slow to ‘associate with the lowly’ around us. Instead, we retreat into our phones–projecting our scorn for complex situations or for boring people. In both cases, when we grab our phones, we air our sense of superiority to others–often without knowing it.”
In this season of life, my kids are the ‘lowly’ around me, the people who have less status and freedom than I do. Sometimes I find them boring or don’t want to engage them. Using my phone lights up happy centers in my brain, so it is the easiest way out of dealing with the task at hand. I can always find something to read or watch to tune them out.
But I don’t want to desire to tune them out so easily. I want to associate with these lowly people while they are still small and want me. And I want to be prepared for a season where the lowly people I could serve are right under my nose.
Going back to my word of 2019, I want to attend, to be ready for service. And using my smartphone as a digital measuring stick to compare my life to others does not help me toward that end.