How to dominate the smartphone before it dominates me

Apparently it’s a modern psychological condition, Nomophobia:  The fear of being without your smartphone.

I have the opposite.cellphone

I’m no Luddite, no hater of all things technological or modern, but I have an overwhelming fear of owning a smart phone.

I just don’t want to be connected all the time. Sometimes I want to leave my house and not be available.

I don’t want to fall prey to those stereotypical smartphone pitfalls and gain convenience but lose the beauty of real relationships.

So for years, I’ve ignored a steady stream of phone upgrade offers from my cell phone company and cheerfully toted around my non-fabulous, plain-old dinosaur of a cell phone.

Most of the time, I forgot to have it charged anyway.  Or I couldn’t find it in my bag.  Or I left it at home.  Or I had turned it on silent and forgot to turn it back up.

I didn’t know how to check the voicemail on the thing and didn’t text back when someone texted me.

The truth is, my introverted soul dislikes phones in general.  Something about talking on the phone is an overwhelming social experience for me.

What do you say on the phone?  How do you know when the other person wants to talk so that you don’t also start talking and end up interrupting them?  What about awkward pauses?

And my least favorite….you call someone and they answer, “Hello…” and that’s it.  So you wonder: Am I talking to the right person?  Or did I dial the wrong number?  Will I launch into a conversation and find that I’m spilling my guts to a stranger?

Then, when you’ve completed the phone conversation, how do you say goodbye without getting on that farewell carousel that just goes round and round until someone finally hangs up?

Okay, see you later.

Bye.

Bye.

Have a good day.

Okay, see ya.

Yeah, bye.

I will do just about anything to avoid talking on the phone.  I will write endless e-mail messages back and forth with someone, send notes via Facebook, or wait to chat face-to-face.

I will even put on a stamp, walk to the mailbox and mail a letter first.20932501_s

Clearly a smartphone and I don’t seem look a good match for each other, this ostentatious, life-controlling, telephoning device and me, the hater of all things descended from Alexander Graham Bell’s initial great invention.

But last week, the cell phone company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So I stopped hyperventilating long enough to call them up and say, this free iPhone yada yada yada (I don’t even know what smartphones are called)..is that for real?

The guy says, “Let’s figure out how much data you might use in a month…..what do you want to do with your new smartphone?”

I think of all the things I DON’T want to do with this potential technology tyrant, but I just tell him what I do want.

I get lost.  Like, a lot.  Pretty much every time I drive in my car, I get lost.  I need to be able to look up directions and find out how to get un-lost.

Oh, and, I’d like to be able to look up phone numbers for places while I’m out and about.

Yup, that’s what I want.

I find it strangely funny…or perhaps absolutely perfect….that during the month of March when I’m choosing to Unplug, a new smartphone is on its way to my front door.

After all, there are choices I need to make now to dominate this device before it dominates me.

Maybe you do, too?

  1. I will not fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent.  Phone calls can be returned.  Text messages can wait for answers.  Facebook and Twitter and that endless stream of Internet information doesn’t need to be accessed all the time.
  2. I will not ignore the people I’m with to interact with the people who aren’t with me.
  3. I will remember social graces—make eye contact with my cashiers, thank the person at the desk, chat in a friendly way with the folks waiting in lines, listen to those I’m with.
  4. I will know when to turn it off and set it aside.  I don’t want to be distracted and I don’t want to distract the people teaching me, talking to me, or performing on a stage.
  5. I will use the tool (the maps!!  the GPS!!  the Bible apps!) and not be dominated by the toy (Candy Crush, I have your number).  

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out (Proverbs 18:15 NIV).

 So, tell me all about it….What do you love about your smart phone?  What are your favorite apps?  How do you keep nomophobia at bay and stay in control of the smartphone?  Fill this novice in on all of the details.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Unplug’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King