Digital Detox (by Len Winneroski)

I just started a very eye opening real, paper book by John Mark Comer entitled, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, that was recommended to me by a friend. I am only two chapters into this book, and I already feel the need to share a few revelations that may be helpful to you too. John is the founding pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland Oregon, and I believe that he may be one of God’s whistleblowers of our digital age.

The third chapter of his book says it very well, “Something is deeply wrong.” What’s wrong according to John (and I agree with him), is that hurry has become an idol that we bow down to every day without even thinking about it. John quotes psychologist Carl Jung who said, “Hurry is not of the devil, hurry is the devil.”

In humor and humility, John describes his path to building a mega church, which then led to burnout. One of the verses that helped John find his way back to health was Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Chapter two of this book is about technological advances like the sundial, the clock, the lightbulb and the iPhone. These advances all have their merit for sure, but John points out the fact that these “advances” have allowed us to replace the natural rhythm of sunrises and and sunsets to create a more standardized system to measure time so that we can minimize sleep and maximize productivity.

According to John, before these inventions, the average time that we spent sleeping each night was 11 hours and now, because we live in a more advanced world, we are lucky to get seven hours of sleep a night. This may explain our addiction to caffeine and Starbucks’ success. Like zombies looking for life, we turn on our coffee pots in the morning and line up like cattle in the Starbucks drive through to pay for our $6 coffee while we scroll through the feeds on our iPhones.

Speaking of phones, according to a study referenced in this book, “The average iPhone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times per day. Each user is on his or her phone for two and a half hours over seventy-six sessions. And that’s for all smartphone users. Another study on millennials put the number at twice that. In every study I ready, most people surveyed had no clue how much time they actually lost to their phones.”

Full discloser, I’m a 55 year old millennial. If you have an iPhone, go to settings and check your average screen time. Mine is currently 5 h 45 min, down 14% from last week. I don’t think that I’m alone. I dare you to look too.

When we go to the doctor they ask us if we smoke, how many alcoholic drinks that we consume per week (I heard that doctors usually double whatever we tell them), and if we use recreational drugs. I’m starting to wonder if they should ask to see our iPhone screen time too. I have a problem and I know what the solution is. More Jesus and less mind junk.

I’m also starting to wonder if putting the Bible app on our iPhones is such a good idea. Yes, it’s wonderful that we can carry the Word of God everywhere we go in our pocket now instead of memorizing it like we used to have to do in the old days, but how often do we spend on our Bible app vs. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Tik Tok (I’m old so I only look at Facebook occasionally).

If you are a Christian, and you have a Bible app, think about the last time that you were reading the Bible on your phone. How many distractions like texts, messenger alerts, or interesting clickbait news headlines interrupted (and probably killed) your Bible study?

I’m not against technology. I think that it certainly has its place to make our world a more connected and productive planet, but why are we not talking more about the downside of our new addiction? I wrote about the effects of social media in 2014 in my manna Social Identity, but apparently God had to send along John’s book through a friend to slap me awake from my digitally induced dopamine high. I think I need a little digital detox again.

Please don’t like, share or comment on this blog because that would be like giving money to a junkie. In fact, I wonder if we are really helping each other by liking, commenting and sharing other’s posts. When we like their posts are we really hoping that they, in turn will like, share and comment on ours?

Although it is not used very often, I know that iPhones still can make voice calls. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of liking each other’s posts we would reach out to the people that we care about the most and actually talk to them on the phone, or invite them to lunch? I know…. we are much too busy.

I also wonder if it would help to start reading paper Bible’s again to avoid digital distractions. Maybe we could really get crazy and start memorizing Scripture to help us cope with the stresses and strains of the day. Maybe we could really throw caution to the wind, and read a book printed on recyclable paper to grow in our knowledge and faith. In fact, maybe you can join me in reading John’s book about how to eliminate hurry in our lives, and if you do, please call me or text me about it!

For more information on the effects of social media on our brains check out this scholarly article.

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