|“Smombies” are people who stare at their smartphones while walking like zombies. They are a problem: according to a University of Washington study, one in three of us is busy dealing with a smartphone or other electronic device at risky road crossings.
Here’s one solution: Officials in the city of Augsburg have installed traffic lights embedded in the pavement. The idea came after a fifteen-year-old girl was killed by a tram. Police say she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks. The new lights are more obvious to those looking down at their devices while walking.
Technology fixation is not just dangerous while we are ambulatory. Hearing loss, sedentary weight gain, sleep disruption, and damage to the eyes, neck, wrist, and fingers are all connected to excessive smartphone use. In addition, media multitasking contributes to poor attention span, depression, and anxiety. One study showed that people who multitasked while doing cognitive tests dropped as many IQ points as if they had just smoked marijuana.
In other words, smartphones make dumb people. What’s the answer?
Experts tell us to make rules such as: no smartphone usage at social events, while driving, or during interactions with others. Turn off all alerts at certain times during the day. Some people even create a long, frustrating password that makes it harder for them to turn on the phone casually.
This is all helpful advice, but I think something more visceral is at work. My smartphone makes me feel relevant by connecting me to the world. It also makes me feel important when people call, text, or email me. And feeling relevant and important is relevant and important to me.
Perhaps there’s a better way than basing our self-esteem on a slab of technology. Perhaps the best way for us to find significance is to stop seeking significance and seek Jesus instead. C. S. Lewis:
Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking at Him.
Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.
Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
Jesus was clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24). Have you answered his call yet today?
Note: For more, please see my latest website article, Shakespeare and the Quest for Purpose.