Every 4.3 minutes

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Every 4.3 minutes: how often we check our phones apparently. Wowsers.

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I’ve just devoured an awesome book: “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” by Tony Reinke. You’ll get an idea of how much I liked it if you look for the crazily enthusiastic Amazon review entitled, “Thank God for this book!”

I’ve littered my paperback copy in underlines. It’s possibly the best book I’ve ever read, so well does it sum up all the little niggles and concerns I’ve had about social media over the years.

You’ve been with me on the journey: you’ve heard about a fair few of them!

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I won’t paste quote after quote as you really need to get your hands on the real thing, but I will say that anyone in the business of being ‘out there’ – whether as a creative hobbyist or as a ‘brand’ (*pulls face*) – would do well to take just a little step back and give a moment’s thought as to how our lives have shifted since we so happily welcomed these little devices into our families.

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Here are some of the questions raised by the book that interest me especially:

* What does an undistracted life look like?

* Are we addicted?

* Do we value the praise of man over validation from God?

* Are we hooked on the curiosity of how we are being perceived, affirmed or talked about?

* Is constantly comparing our stats healthy or useful in any way as believers?

* Does our obsession with the virtual diminish an appreciation of the right-now-real?

* Are we idolising ourselves and our own lifestyles?

* Are our real life interactions rendered more shallow because this is how we interact online?

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* Do we stay connected because we fear being alone with ourselves? And do we also feed online connections because we fear the mess of real-world, rejection-risky relationships?

* Does the enemy use social media to keep us from our precious silent times with God?

* Do we get drawn into spiritually harmful anonymous voyeurism of ‘juicy’ topics and themes?

* Do we buy things online as a form of therapy?

* Does the constant ‘mental pollution’ of online noise keep us from deeper thoughts?

* Are we obsessed with the new and staying up to date?

* Are we putting down roots online, when we would do better to put down roots in our real communities?

* Does social media tire us out and leave us depressed?

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I’ll stop there, but let me tell you, these are just a few of the questions buzzing about in my head since reading this incredible book.

I’ll finish this post with a short quote from the book that really resonated with me.

Author Tony tells the story of a chap who took a forty day break from online activity and reported back on his experience:

“FOMO is a real thing,” he said, “What I was most afraid of missing out on was not information, but affirmation. I discovered how attached, or maybe addicted, I was to the small daily dose of reassurance that other people ‘like’ me and ‘follow’ me… it was sobering how strong the pull was on me.”

Tony goes on to comment,

“This desire for personal affirmation is perhaps the smartphone’s strongest lure… At the first hint of discomfort, we instinctively grab our phones to medicate the pain with affirmation. This habit could not be more damaging.”

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I put our family i-pad away in the cupboard each evening to avoid this exact temptation.

Because God is my healer in life’s painful moments; He is the source of my strength and affirmation. It’s in His view of me that I am reminded who I am: how precious I am, followers or none.

But: all these bells still ringing so loudly, even from my experience of limiting myself solely to Instagram, accessed on the little computer/TV in our sitting room.

No, there’s never been a smartphone in this girl’s backpack  – just brilliantly written, thought-provoking paperbacks – and I have every intention of keeping things that way.

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