Dear Girl: get off your phone

Dear Girl (and just people in general),

There’s something disturbing about our culture today. I work at a coffee shop, and I can’t tell you how many times someone comes up to the counter to order, head down, fingers scrolling through Snapchat. Sometimes they put their phone down to say hi. Sometimes they don’t look up. Sometimes they don’t even hear me when I ask them how they’re doing and what they would like today.

It’s all about the phone.

I love social media. There’s nothing better than seeing a picture of a friend’s baby, or their wedding, or their significant other blowing out birthday candles. Memes are great too. And I can definitely be a person who sits on her phone for a couple hours scrolling mindlessly through things on the internet that don’t mean anything.

But y’all … we’re losing it.

And I’m not just talking about the research that’s been done about how technology affects our eyes, brain, etc. That’s not my forte, so I’m not going to talk about it. I learned that lesson a long time ago.

What I’m saying is this: if we can’t put our phones down to smile at a barista, order a coffee drink, pay, and then step away, we have a really, really, really big problem. Instagram, snapchat, facebook, and whatever else there is has begun it’s ascent into power and control over OUR lives.

Instead of actually working while at our jobs, we’re sitting on our phones in the back. Instead of having a conversation with an old woman who needs a kind smile and a few words, we’re snap-chatting duck faces to our friends. Instead of driving with our eyes on the road, we’re playing games.

And not only is it killing people, it is destroying relationships, purity, hope, and it’s taking away our lives. The scariest part of this is that we don’t even really realize it. Several months ago, one of my friends said, “It just seems like everyone is attached to their phones these days. That’s all that matters now. They’re wasting away their life.” I agreed, but after that was brought up by someone my age and not someone who’s eighty and wants things back to the ‘good ol’ days’, I started taking a serious look at my life and the ones around me.

And we are truly wasting away our lives.

Forget about what the older people say about our phones taking away face-to-face communication. That is not the biggest problem.

We have prioritized snap streaks over LIFE. Sending duck-face selfies instead of making eye contact with someone. Inappropriately commenting on a stranger’s posts instead of saying SOMETHING to a brother or sister who desperately needs love.

And it’s all done aimlessly. Ask yourself this question:

Do I remember more than two things that I snapped/liked/commented on today?

Who knows how many photos I liked on Instagram today. I can say I remember two of them. Even the ones I started lol’ing in real life over. Even the ones that made me tear up. TWO, y’all. Maybe some people have a better memory than me, but it’s probably not much more than that.

Are we really missing out on that much?

That’s the next question. Imagine there’s two options. No phone or all the phone stuff. For the rest of your life, you can have one of those. And before you choose, I want you to ask yourself another question: what would I be missing out on? On both sides. If you didn’t have your phone, there would be no late-night conversations that made you really tired in the morning. No more memes to make you laugh when you’re sad. You’d also miss out on a lot of spoilers from TV and movies. Oh, and getting to humble-brag about your significant other.

There’s a lot to miss.

But what if you choose the phone? What would you miss out on in real life? Late-night conversations on the couch with your best friend. Being best friends with your siblings isn’t going to happen, so there will be no inside jokes to make you laugh, because you’ve missed all those moments, just staring at your phone. You’ll miss the opportunity to be friends with people who, instead of just posting on social media about events, will want you to be THERE at those events. Maybe you’ll even miss out on finding a spouse, because the one God put before you wasn’t on your phone.

Thankfully, most of the time we’re not forced to choose between two worlds. As I’ve said before, I love Instagram. (Though if I had to pick one thing to use for the rest of my life, it would be Pinterest. I’ve got my whole life planned out on there.)

But last night while I was swimming (yes, I still do that), swim lessons were going on. Two cute little kids, probably under seven, sat on the bleachers for forty-five minutes, eyes glued to a phone. Another little kid marched across the deck to his mom, and didn’t look up until he got to her side.

Why is that now a normal thing? Call me old-fashioned or whatever, but I’m nineteen. Not old. In fact, I can do whatever I want with my technology and not many people would bat an eye. Because people being on their phone is “normal”. Staring at your phone while someone is talking to you is “normal”. Eating dinner while on your phone is “normal”. Driving down the road with a phone in hand is “normal”.

Whhhyy?!?!

Girls (and guys), it doesn’t have to be normal. WE don’t have to make it normal. WE can be the people who put down our phones to order. WE can be the people who takes even ten minutes out of our day to spend time with a younger sibling. WE can be the people who surprise an elderly person with a bright smile when we walk past.

Is it really that hard to do?

My answer is yes. Because it is the trend. How many followers do you have? How many likes did that photo get? How many people saw your story? How many? How many? Apps track who looked at your profile, who unliked your photo, who unfollowed you. Snapchat now offers you the chance to know where your friends are at all times.

If it wasn’t so hard, more poeple would be doing it. So give yourself grace. But then find some way to change it. Delete Instagram off your phone for an hour. Run your phone down to no battery and let it be dead for a bit.

Change something. 

Because that’s our problem. It’s so normalized now to be attached to the phone and it’s contents that we’re forgetting that there once was a time when people read a book in their free time. Or rode a horse. Or went for a picnic. And in that day, there was a thousand different options of things to do. Without a phone.

Now, when we’re bored, we look at our phone. There’s a way to bring your phone into the shower now. We look at our phone when we’re uncomfortable, when we’re just really, really bored, and it keeps going.

How about exploring other options? Spend a few minutes in the shower praying. Force yourself to be uncomfortable, because sometimes that’s a good thing. When you’re bored (and this is my biggest downfall), find a book. Play the piano. Go for a walk. Listen to some music.

It’s okay if someone laughs at you when you say you’re not checking your social media for a day. Or that you deleted apps off your phone (had that happen a couple days ago when I said I didn’t have Instagram on my phone for a bit). It IS worth it.

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house: I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. ~ Psalm 101:2-3

The world wants us to believe that we NEED to have social media and we NEED to have our phones with us at all times.

Do I remember more than two things that I snapped/liked/commented on today?

Guys and girls, how much is it worth? Please ask yourself that. Every time you pull out your phone to do whatever, please just ask yourself if it’s worth it. Not just when you’re on the road. But when you’re home with your family. Even when you’re with your friends.

Do not be comformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2

As Christians, we are not supposed to be like this world. How are we supposed to hear God when all we can see and hear is the constant pitter-patter of likes and followers and snaps? I can say from experience that it doesn’t really work. We think it works, but does it REALLY WORK? He asks us to get quiet. Social media is not quiet. It’s loud and abusive and rude.

Yes, I realize you hide this from your parents, because I certainly do. Social media is not always a nice place. It can be BRUTAL. (And parents, if you’re reading this: social media is NOT what we kids say it is. It is a place where crude, rude, and everything else under the sun is said. We like to say it’s a sweet place where we can talk to our friends, but it’s really not.)

Is that good and acceptable and perfect? Some of it can be. I follow a ton of awesome, Christian people and I love seeing their posts. But can you avoid the rest? How long until you stumble upon something that is not acceptable to God?

And yes, I realize that this is/can be/will be offensive to some. But y’know, y’all …. I’m tired of it. I want to see us enjoying life. Actual life, not the fake lives we plaster all of over social media. It’s happened to me plenty, and it’s happened to 90% of other kids my age. Soon we’ll be adults. (Well, we are, but official adults.) What are we going to do then? Are we going to be glued to our phones during our weddings, when we’re giving birth to our babies? Are we going to be so attached to it that we miss our childrens’ first steps and first ‘mama’?

Change something.

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Lover of Jesus, life, coffee, books, writing, and family.

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