Welcome to the first post of what we’re calling “Tech-Wise Wednesdays”, a space where we want to curate suggestions and stories about becoming tech-wise. Members of our Park community will share how they try to practice being tech-wise in their everyday life and ways that they’ve seen technology impact them and others. This first post is brought to you by Corinne Karl.
“When did we as a civilization all decide to sleep with our phones next to our heads?”
Anyone who knows me well knows I am a lover of a good podcast. I devour them while I do my graphic design work. One day, as I hustled away with my laptop in Starbucks, I came across an interview with Andy Crouch.
In this interview, he raised the question, “When did we as a civilization all decide to sleep with our phones next to our heads?” It made me pause. It had never struck me as odd that my little “glowing rectangle” (as Andy refers to it) was the very first thing I would look at when I awoke. He raised the question of how that impacts me.
“How does that impact me?” I thought. What would I do first? Well, I would shamelessly hit off my first alarm (or two) and eventually relent. What would come next? My thumb would quickly find Facebook and Instagram then the news and email. Ugh. Checking email first thing as I lay in bed was pretty much always a mistake — one that guaranteed my day to begin with stress. I realized I had a little ritual of the thumbs each morning, clicking and scrolling. What was I looking for? I’m not quite sure. What did I find? Not peace. Not satisfaction. Maybe a notification. Maybe a few things to add to my to-do list. Maybe a meme that made me laugh. Maybe some news of something terrible across the world to make my heart sink. Maybe another way to feel inadequate.
I realized I was starting (and ending) my day with the equivalent of McDonald’s for my soul. At least, that’s how it was affecting me. It was salty and briefly satisfying but left me with a lingering blah at best and stress and the equivalent of spiritual indigestion at worst. I realized, especially in this season of life, full of little kids and rarely enough sleep, I needed to start my day with things that nourished and sustained my soul before I did anything else.
What if I did something else instead? I began listening to other voices who had started talking about this convo of digital distraction, including John Mark Comer, a pastor and author. He made the suggestion of swapping your phone alarm for an analog alarm clock. I dug out my college alarm clock that docks my now retro iPod touch and started using it. I started putting my phone on Do Not Disturb and putting it in the kitchen to charge at night and set the rule for myself that I needed to be with Jesus, drink my tea, and read the Bible and whatever book is in my rotation before touching my phone each morning. Then I pushed myself further to not let myself touch the phone till at least 7:30 am. Suddenly I was starting the first hour and a half of my day without the bombardment of notifications and noise and stress and choking worries; and, instead, starting with Jesus.
I started this new habit last summer. The time and peace I have reclaimed in these eight months have been incredible. Yes, some days I still twitch a little as I walk into the kitchen at 6am, like the proper phone addict (in recovery) I am. I’m so thankful to start and end my day without my phone; and, instead, to start with more presence, more peace, more Jesus, more books, and more of the faces of my loved ones.
What if your phone wasn’t the last and first thing you looked at each day?
Have you ever considered using an alarm clock instead? Would carving out time first thing in the morning phone-free work for you? Even if just for 15 minutes? Or is there another phone-free space you can reclaim and fill with something more life-giving instead?
So what now? Well, here are two suggestions:
First, you can download a “Scripture before Scrolling” lock screen image if you think that would be a helpful reminder to you and set that as your lock screen. Pastor Michael issued that challenge to consider this week — to try to read Scripture before you scroll each morning.
Second, register today for the Tech-Wise event on Friday, March 10th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, with our special guest Amy Crouch, author of My Tech-Wise Life, as we start the conversation of navigating this digital world together with wisdom.
Childcare will be available through 5th grade and children/youth in 6th grade and up are encouraged to attend. You can register here.
Corinne Karl is the co-leader of the Shrewsbury community group and one of the Beginners teachers in Park Kids.
The Case for a Digital Asceticism by John Mark Comer