A few years ago, one of my relatives called my office to discuss an urgent legal matter. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “James.” When James called, my receptionist told him that I was in court and that she would give me a message to call him when I returned to the office. James asked the receptionist for my cell phone number. She told him that I did not always carry a cell phone and that she was not allowed to give out the number. She assured him that the best way to reach me would be through my office.
James became irritated and said that he had a hard time believing that a lawyer would not have his cell phone with him at all times so he could make himself available to clients. My receptionist explained to him that she had specific instructions not to provide my cell phone number to anyone without my permission. James realized that he was not going to get the number, so he insisted that the receptionist get a message to me that he had an important matter that he needed to discuss with me.
After James hung up the telephone, my receptionist called and left a message for me on my cell phone. When I returned to the office, I called James to see what he wanted. Before we got started, I explained to him that I was not attached to my cell phone like most people. I told him that during the day my cell phone was usually in silent mode, sitting on top of a file cabinet next to my desk.
I explained that although I check my phone periodically throughout the day to see if I have any messages from family members, I rarely use it. He still had trouble believing that I was not attached to my phone like most other people. We then got around to discussing his legal problem and I scheduled an appointment for him to come to my office to meet with me.
While I periodically have family members with legal questions call my cell phone and leave a message for me to call them, they rarely receive a return call. They mistakenly believe that if they call my cell phone rather than my office I’ll get back to them sooner. They’re wrong. Usually when I get their message I’m busy, so I don’t return their call right away. Instead, I make a mental note to call them later. Unfortunately, I usually end up forgetting to call them.
When I’m at my office and I receive a telephone message, I immediately write the caller’s name and phone number on my to-do list so I’ll remember to return their call.
I thought about my experience with my cousin recently when I ran across an “Internet Trends Report” that was published in May 2013. The report revealed that the typical smartphone user checks his or her phone 150 times a day. The report also stated that the first thing a majority of smartphone users do immediately upon waking up is check their smartphones.
Now, if the average person spends 30 seconds each time they check their phone, during a typical day they use up 75 minutes of their time. For a lot of young people, the 30-second estimate is probably low.
If the average smartphone user added up all the minutes spent sending and responding to texts, posting and responding to messages on social media sites, checking Internet sites, and watching videos, etc., and then divided the total number of minutes by the total number of times the person checked the cell phone, the average amount of time spent per incident would most likely be more than 30 seconds.
While I have no problem with people checking their smartphones on a regular basis, I question the obsessive nature of people who feel compelled to check their smartphones 150 times a day. Here’s one question I would have for those people: “How many times a day do you stop and say a prayer or ask that God guide you through your day?” Another question would be: “Instead of checking your phone immediately upon waking up, wouldn’t it be better to develop the daily habit of saying a prayer immediately upon arising?”
While I was growing up, my Uncle Bill Williams always had a dog. His favorite breed was the Labrador retriever. Two particular dogs that I remember him owning at different times were named “Fuzzy” and “Angel.” Fuzzy was a black Lab retriever and Angel was a golden Lab retriever. Both dogs were trained to obey basic commands such as “sit” and “heel,” as well as how to hunt so they could point out and fetch a pheasant after it was shot by my uncle.
I feel as though a large segment of our population has been trained like dogs to immediately react and respond to the sounds that their smartphones make when there is a new text or message. Like my uncle’s dogs, they immediately respond by stopping whatever they’re doing so they can fetch the message and respond to it.
I have an idea for an app that would benefit all the Christians who have been trained to immediately react and respond to their smartphones. The app would be programmed to frequently and randomly send messages to a person’s smartphone to remind the person to reach out to God in prayer or to thank God for helping the person get through the day.
How many times throughout the typical day do you think about saying a prayer or thanking God for what He has done for you? I’m serious. Stop and answer the question. How many times throughout the day do you think about saying a prayer or thanking God for what He has done for you? Is it five times? Ten times? I can guarantee you that it’s not 150 times.
One New Year’s resolution we should all commit to is developing new rituals that remind us to pray several times during the day. One ritual could be the habit of saying a Hail Mary every time we check our smartphone for messages. For the average person, that would be 150 Hail Mary’s every day. It would also be a good practice to say a prayer of thanksgiving when we wake up, before we check to see if we have any messages on our smartphones.
What’s more important: nurturing our relationships with our friends, or nurturing our relationship with our Creator? We can do both, but let’s make sure we pay more attention to our Creator throughout the day than our friends.