I’m addicted to my phone. There…I said it. All you haters happy now?
What is it about this 4.5 inch glowing screen that has captured my heart and bewitched my mind? Why do I obsessively carry this all-knowing device on me at all times, even bringing it into the bathroom where I hook it up to my Bluetooth shower speaker so I can sing along with T-Swift while washing my hair? How did an invention once thought to be the stuff of Star Trek become the single most important item I own?
The answer: instant access to everything. I can search for anything – literally anything – and in a matter of seconds have found it (depending on how strong the 4G signal is or if I have WiFi access).
Can’t remember the name of a song? I’ll just Shazam it. Need to find out what that obscure high school classmate you’ve totally forgotten about is doing now? I’ll just Facebook stalk her for a few minutes and be caught up on the last 7 years of her life. Want to find something in the store, but can’t find #AlexfromTarget to give you directions? There’s a Target App that gives me a map of the whole place. Forget human interaction…my phone will show me the way. See something online that you think would be neat to own? Two clicks on Amazon and it’ll be delivered to my door in 48 hours. Thank you $99 Prime subscription. You’re my best friend.
The instant gratification of finding exactly what I need (but probably just want), and then being able to instantly share it with the people I call “friends” and “followers” – is like getting high on a drug. In fact, a recent study found that the instant satisfaction of receiving a text or finding that gif you were desperately searching for actually releases chemicals in the brain that cause us pleasure, similar to what one would experience while on a high-inducing narcotic. Dopamine triggers a “seeking” function within us – we want to know. Opioid releases a “liking” function within us that causes us to seek more. Before we know it, we’re caught in a never-ending dopamine-opioid cycle that glues our thumbs to the screen and prevents us from looking up and being present in the moment.
In the words of the infamous Miley Cyrus…we can’t stop…and we won’t stop…
Our addiction to this instant gratification is how Kim Kardashian was able to post a series of photos of herself in the nude last week in an attempt to “break the internet”. In less than a half hour, the photo and hashtag were trending worldwide. For the following days, more photos from the shoot were posted, all with the hashtag #breaktheinternet. This “global superstar,” whose job is hard to define and who famously broadcast her first wedding, a marriage lasting less than 100 days, decided to bare her backside so she could claim to shut down the functionality and usefulness of one of the greatest inventions in human history. She didn’t want the internet to break…she just wanted the internet to be all about her. Nothing else mattered except her derriere and the fact that she could balance a champagne glass upon it. Move over “apparently kid”, because apparently a butt just beat you in the internet fame department.
The sad thing is…Kim Kardashian succeeded. The hashtag trended. Everyone and their mother saw the photo, and I’m sure those mothers were weeping for the future of humanity. Our thumbs were glued to the phone and many of them hit the favorite and retweet buttons that made it all go viral. In this world of instant access to everything, including many things we would never want to see, we risk losing touch with the realest thing there is: God Himself.
I can find everything right now on the internet, and so the Creator that must be diligently sought and can only be found in the quiet whisper of the wind can be easily missed amongst the noise of the World Wide Web. I can’t google “relationship with God” and find an instantly perfect, ready-made spiritual life. That will only come with patient practice, studious seeking, and an active approach to His Presence. I can’t search #Hisplan and see a thousand perfectly filtered pictures of every upcoming moment of my life. Those pictures haven’t been taken yet, because I’m still in the midst of living that perfect plan, but since we’ve become attached to the answer “right now,” we become discouraged because it isn’t revealed to us the moment we seek it.
Perhaps we do need to break the internet, but not in the way Kanye’s boo was hoping. Perhaps it’s time we set aside the 4 inch screens, for just a little while each day, and approach the Infinitely Omniscient God who truly does have every answer we could ever seek. It may not be throwback photos to elementary school or video loops of cats falling off of tables or pictures of our most recent man crush, but God does know the deepest desires of our heart and the infinitely perfect plan He has set in place for our life. When we discover Him and His plan, in the slow, deliberate, quiet way He wishes to show it to us, then the brokenness of our lives will be fixed and the broken internet will be merely an afterthought.
What are some ways you unplug and focus on communicating with God rather than the secular world?