How Satan uses technology– especially cell phones– to disconnect us from our mortal experience.
The average person spends almost five and a half years of their life on social media.
That’s not taking into account time spent texting, emailing, shopping on Amazon, or scrolling through news feeds.
Taking all of those other phone activities into account, it’s safe to assume that the average person will spend at least 7 years of their life looking at their cell phone.
Personally, I’m floored.
For some sweet children, that is more than the total number of years they have on this earth.
And we spend all of that time — literally years of our lives– looking at a screen.
A Subtle Attack on Our Physical Experience
While I’m sure you’re shocked (as I am) about the amount of time we spend on our phones, I hope you will be more than shocked.
I hope you will recognize that this is more than just a bad habit to overcome.
This is more than just a societal illness that needs healing.
This is a direct attack by the adversary on our physical experience here on earth.
I previously wrote about how Satan attacks our physical bodies by convincing us to focus only on how they look.
This week I want to focus on how the adversary attacks our physical bodies by tempting us to ignore them all together.
If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes.DAVID A. BEDNAR, “THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE,” CES FIRESIDE, MAY 3, 2009
In other words, Satan is trying to steal your mortal experience.
This idea might seem odd to some.
Is technology use really an attack of the adversary?
If I’m not doing anything inherently wrong then what is the big deal?
Well, that’s the trick. It’s a big deal exactly because it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all.
Satan knows that there are many good, faithful followers of Christ whom he will NEVER convince to misuse their bodies.
There are hundreds of thousands of women who will simply never have an affair, use pornography, or do any of the myriad things with their bodies that he so successfully tempts others to do.
It’s just not going to happen.
And so he works more subtly.
Instead of convincing us to harm or misuse our bodies, he convinces us to ignore and disconnect from them.
He gets us to waste the physical experience we came here for.
If he can’t get us out of our homes to misuse our bodies, then he’ll take us in our homes and convince us to ignore our bodies.
But Does It Really Matter?
While I recognize that Satan might be tempting me to use my cell phone excessively, is it really an issue?
What does it matter if I’m disconnected from the physical experience of life?
Well, it matters not because it’s a sin of commission (an active form of rebellion and sin), but because of what it causes me to omit from my life.
Consider with me the amount of time we will spend on our cell phones, simply on social media: over 5 years of our lives.
Now consider what else we might accomplish with over 5 years of effort.
You could write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing. (Actually, with that much time you could write anywhere from 5 to 11 novels.)
You could drive across the country 1,070 times.
You could have the “perfect kiss” with your husband 13,176,000 times.
You could play 87,600 board games.
You could read 525,600 picture books to your children.
Perhaps the problem with using technology isn’t so much what we’re doing, it’s what we’re not doing.
Instead of really experiencing life, making significant connections, and becoming the truly fantastic people God knows we can be, we are endlessly scrolling, liking, and pinning our time away.
“Our leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”C.S. LEWIS (AS QUOTED BY JEFFREY R. HOLLAND, “SANCTIFY YOURSELVES,” GENERAL CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 200)
The Effect of Technology on Relationships
The most important things we miss when we are focused on our cell phones are people.
When we are so focused on our phones that we ignore those around us, we are committing the social faux pas of “phubbing” or “phone snubbing.”
But more than a faux pas, it’s a tragic waste.
The children’s magazine Highlights performed a survey of children between the ages of 6 and 12, asking them if they felt their parents were distracted when they tried to talk with them. 62% of these children said yes.
For most of these children their parents weren’t distracted by siblings, by cooking a meal, or by doing chores… they were distracted by technology.
Personally, I don’t want my children to remember me with a cell phone always in my hand. I don’t want them to remember just the upper half of my face with the lower half hidden behind a laptop.
I want them to remember me smiling, laughing, chatting, listening, and hugging them.
I want them to remember that when they were with me they felt important and loved.
I want them to know that they are more valuable to me than any online connection ever could be.
But What Do I Do?
I’m guessing that you probably want those same things.
You want to be present for your kids.
You want to be present for your spouse, your friends, your family.
You want to be able to fully experience life without feeling attached to a cell phone.
But the big question is “how?”
Now this is the part of the article where I tell you I have it all figured out and then I reveal my big “secret fix.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have one.
I don’t know how to control the amount of time spent on a cell phone because I’m working on it like crazy right now.
But I will tell you the most helpful advice I found when searching for ideas to help. It was the following suggestion from David A. Bednar:
I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying:
1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?DAVID A. BEDNAR, “THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE,” CES FIRESIDE, MAY 3, 2009
In response to those two questions I am now setting goals for how much time I spend on my phone, and I’m tracking it with a special app.
I’m setting “off limits” tech times for myself including the hours between when my kids get home from school and when they go to bed.
I’m switching up my morning schedule so that I don’t look at my cell phone as soon as I wake up.
Basically, I’m being very, very aware of what I do and how it affects not only me but the people I am with.
I would challenge you to ask yourself those same two questions:
- Does my use of technology invite the spirit?
- Does it expand my ability to make meaningful, loving connections with the people in my life who truly matter?
It may not be easy to accept the answers. I know it wasn’t for me.
But real connections, real relationships, are so much more powerful and more important than any amount of “likes”, or number of followers ever could be.
I testify that God cares about your relationships.
He cares about how your time on this earth is spent.
And rather than letting Satan steal this mortal experience from you, I challenge you to live it as fully, completely, and with as much real connection as you possibly can.
Remember, you shouted for joy when you learned you’d get to have this body.
Don’t waste a moment of it!