The material below was shared at a recent men’s breakfast at our church. The insights given are biblical, relevant, and insightful. And they are things everyone in our day needs to be conscious of and intentional about as electronic devices are increasingly woven into the fabric of our daily lives.
While smartphones may be relatively new, human invention and ingenuity is not. In a sense, Paul was using the technology of his day as he wrote letters — they both extended his reach, and had built-in limitations that he recognized (1 Corinthians 16:7; 1 Corinthians 16:17-18).
Here are five ways your smartphone may be helping, or hindering, your relationships:
Five ways your smartphone could extend your relationships:
1. Your smartphone lets you to ask questions of—and even make friends with—the greatest experts in the world on some issues, as the Corinthians asked questions of Paul.
2. Your smartphone lets you give and experience some of the benefits of in-person friendship when time or distance gets in the way.
3. Your smartphone lets you share good news and encourage others. 1 Corinthians 16:9.
4. Your smartphone lets you share bad news and get prayer. 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
5. Your smartphone is convenient.
Five ways your smartphone might be distorting your relationships:
1. In conflict situations, the smartphone can replace discussion aimed at mutual understating into a debate in which whoever can type the fastest wins. Galatians 4:20.
2. Smartphone friendships can be unrealistically cheery. Consider Paul’s words in Acts 20:31.
3. If we aren’t careful, technology can make us think of our friends and ourselves merely as avatars, characters in a game. And this can lead us to speak and act in ways that we never would around real human beings.
4. Your smartphone allows you to demonize or lionize others based on over-interpretation or mere subjective illusion. Example: “Running a few minutes late.” The answer could be: “Okay.” “Ok.” “Ok” (without a period). Research shows each answer would generally be taken differently.
5. Smartphone friendships, even the best smartphone friendships, cannot fulfill us along all the axis which God meant friendships to fulfill us. 2 Timothy 4:21.
Technology extends and distorts. We should make use of the extension and beware of the warping.
(Guest writer Noah Weaver lives and works in Dayton, Ohio where he mostly writes software and, sometimes, studies philosophy and theology.)