A couple of weeks ago we were walking and decided to sit on a bench and relax a few minutes in the Memorial Butterfly Garden. As we talked, I noticed a young couple sitting on a bench across the garden holding hands. How sweet! But what struck me was their eyes. Their intensive gaze. They seemed oblivious to everyone and everything around them. They were focused.
On their cell phones!
Yes, they each had a cell phone in their other hand. And they never, for the minutes we sat there, took their eyes off of the screen!
I thought about that couple again last week at 30,000 feet in the air on a Southwest flight from Tampa. As I thumbed through their magazine, I found an interesting article entitled, Extreme Connectivity by Shawn Parr, CEO of Bulldog Drummond. He is a business consultant and gives advice for growing your career.
Parr warns against the “IDIOT Syndrome,” an acronym for Impulsive Digital Isolationist Obsessive Tendency. He got the idea from Aristotle who wrote that a person who can’t get along in society or chooses not to “must either be a beast or a god.” The Greeks called such a person idiotes, from which we get the word idiot!
Shawn says “the IDIOT syndrome surrounds you. People are consumed by their texting, talking, gaming, Instagramming, tweeting, and Facebooking. The absorbed look of combined urgency, importance and disconnection from the immediate world is all around us.”
Like the young couple in the park holding hands, but missing the opportunity to really connect! Or the woman driving 70 miles an hour on the Interstate focused on texting instead of watching the road. Or the guy who can’t make it through an entire worship service on Sunday without checking his phone.
Parr’s article pointed to a Baylor University study that showed “smartphone dependency has characteristics similar to other addictions.” It was pointed out that reading a book is different from reading something from your phone. The book offers only the physical pages to focus on. But as Nicolas Carr observes “the Internet, on the other hand, is a whole amusement park of distractions….”
Parr offers five suggestions to overcome the IDIOT syndrome.
(1) Schedule a phone free hour every day.
(2) Unplug from all devices at least one day on the weekend
(3) Turn off your phone in meetings. If you’re bored, doodle!
(4) Declare every dinner table is a phone free zone.
(5) No texting while driving. This isn’t only a sign of IDIOT syndrome. It’s just plain dangerous.
In reflecting on this article, I’m reminded the that the IDIOT syndrome also has spiritual implications. Consider these questions:
(1) Is your smartphone absorption impeding intimacy with your husband or wife? And your relationship with your children?
(2) Are you more connected to your smartphone than to God through prayer?
(3) Are you spending more time texting, than getting into the text of the Bible?
(4) Can you attend Sunday worship without checking your messages? Facebooking? Texting? Or surfing the net?
Yes, I know people have the Bible text on their phones! And sometimes Bible class students look up something on their phone that adds value to discussion. However, if your phone is more of a hindrance than a help during class or worship, maybe you ought to turn it off! Or even leave it in the car!
Possibly the apostle Paul’s admonition has some application to iphone addiction!
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Cor 6:12).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman