If Jesus had a cell phone….
Do you think if Jesus was walking the earth in 2021 he would allow a lot of notifications on his phone? This is the question that I was rolling around in my head last week as I began to take a serious look at what was bothering me with the media content I overindulge in every day. I get notifications from the New York Times, notifications from The Weather Channel, FEMA, the state of Connecticut, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. I get notifications each time a text is delivered, a voicemail is left or a call is missed. And so I wondered, what would Jesus want to be notified about?
I came to the conclusion that He would not want to be notified of much if anything. Perhaps He would keep the messages and phone notifications just in case a loved one needed Him. Come to think of it, that would be all of us so his mailbox and texts may short circuit. He wouldn’t be interested in the news, I don’t think. No matter what the topic, it is all written with the intention to incite an emotional response; likely an overreaction at that. Not for nothing, but Jesus is exceptionally steady and I don’t see Him getting all up in the drama. I can’t believe that Jesus would interrupt a conversation with the woman at the well to see what was just put into his recommended watch list. Can you picture it? “Now, let’s wash away those sins, but give me a sec, these goats jumping on bails of hay are hysterical.”
While Jesus may have had a phone in 2021, (okay, he likely wouldn’t but let’s just pretend) I don’t believe He would let it distract Him the way I let mine distract me. His focus was always on the person, or people, right in front of Him. I think His phone would have been in a small pack, don’t you? Or maybe Peter would have hung on to it for safekeeping. Jesus wouldn’t begin to preach only to have his ringer interrupt. And I’m quite sure that at the many meals He shared with others would not have included a phone on the dining table, screen up, just in case something important happened.
And so after mulling over the question, what notifications would Jesus have on His phone, I decided to give mine a tune-up. After what seemed like hours, I whittled down the contents of my phone in order to focus the contents of my mind.
Notification – OFF
Notifications are all gone, except for text and voicemail. (The reality of my home and work life is that I do need to be available so those notifications were keepers.) I removed apps. I set usage times. I left Facebook groups and unliked content that made my feed look like a shopping catalog. I took a really hard look at everything I consume, asking myself each time I opened another app, “how does this serve my life?”
I’m disappointed to say that a lot of apps delivered absolutely useless content to me on a regular basis. However, I’m also happy to say that many apps serve me well. These are all tools for my overall health and wellbeing, for example, the Orangetheory app to schedule classes and get workout info., and WW to help me track my daily food and water, find motivation for a healthy mind, body, and soul, and to discover new recipes. Email and my calendar to keep up with work when I am out of the building but am needed for one reason or another. The Bible, Apple Books, and my Kindle all got a stay of execution while Candy Crush and Twitter, among others, were tossed out.
My life has gotten quieter and it’s a welcome change.
I am less distracted when I’m with others. The opportunity to both tune out and tune in is fantastic. How sad that I forgot what it was like to simply be present in the present. I’m a bit ashamed, to be honest. How did I get caught in the consumer technology whirlwind? A gradual increase in consumption, I suppose. A need to fit in. Fear of missing something the moment it happened or of being left behind. And some of those anxieties remain. Yet I still believe that this is what Jesus has been asking of me for quite some time. (He and I have been discussing this for a while now) If I am to serve others and walk in love as Jesus asks, I cannot do so with one ear listening to the person who asks for my time and one anticipating a ding from my phone.
And so, while I am not fasting from social media, (I am no good with diets that restrict my choices) I have whittled down the content and time for engagement. So far, it is serving me well which means I can serve you well in return.
Have you thought about your love/hate relationship with your phone? Are there any changes you would make to how you take in content, or set notifications, that would make your life quieter and more full at the same time? Let me know! I would love to hear from you.
By the way, last week between the time the blog post was formatted and ready for publication the actual publication, something happened to my website and the post didn’t display properly. If you didn’t get to read last week’s post and would like to, you can find it here.