One Phone to Rule them All

A year ago, I wrote this post, in which I claim that the iPhone is essentially a better phone, and not a revolutionary game-changer. I was convinced that while it would conveniantly integrate two of our day’s oft-used gadgets, it would only make our lives more conveniant, not fundamentally different. And so, the dangers and benefits of the iphone were stated as typical for anything else.

Well, things have changed.

In fact, two key developments have caused me to reevaluate my opinion of the iPhone’s impact on our culture:

  1. Apple introduced the app store, which provided the opportunity for people to use the iPhone’s various innovative functions in any way they can dream up, and the faster 3G internet, which made these functions much more practical.
  2. I got one for myself.

It almost goes without saying that I’m not disappointed with my iPhone. It is everything I hope for and more. The real question, though, is whether this “Jesus-Phone” does as much to change our culture as many might think. While I used to balk at this concept (and at the time I was probably right to), I find myself realizing that the iPhone is starting to change things – at least, for me.

The iPhone has affected my downtime. It’s safe to say I can’t remember a time I was forced to simply sit and think. When I’m walking somewhere, waiting in line, or trapped in a room with no food (it could happen), I always have the ability to read the Bible, check my calendar or email, twitter, check facebook, or listen to some music. The benefit here is it enables me to more easily keep up with various tasks. I like to communicate with friends through email, facebook and twitter. I need to keep on top of my schedule with my calendar. If anything’s a necessity, isn’t scripture?

And yet, another necessity is simply thinking about all of these things. In an iPhone culture, the single most frightening danger is that we will all be too busy reading, checking, tweeting, and updating that we forget to think about how and why we do those things at all.

If we didn’t want to call the iPhone revolutionary (and I’m apt to at this point), we could at least call it the missing link that connects the individual to the outside world at every point of one’s life. The implications of this are much too huge to discuss in just one post. But we can at least recognize the immediate dangers and prepare ourselves to make changes.

Whether we go without the phone, turn it off every once in a while, or just learn to use it in moderation, we can let the iPhone change our lives, but we don’t have to let it change our hearts.

About Richard Clark

Richard H. Clark is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. He has a Master of Arts in Theology and the Arts from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, Ky. He is also the managing editor of Gamechurch and a freelance writer for Unwinnable, Paste, and other outlets.
E-mail: clarkrichardh [at] gmail [dot] com.
Twitter: @deadyetliving

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    I’m still not sure revolutionary is the right description. Weren’t tech toys doing all this ages ago? Maybe they weren’t, but it sure seems like they were. I remember my boss showing me some of his new gadgets six or seven years ago and they sound pretty similar to the iPhone—though incrementally not as pretty.

    Rather than revolution, the iPhone looks to be more evolution. (And you know how Christians feel about evolution.)

    As early adopter as I am, I still haven’t found any reason to get super excited about the mobile-craze as certain segments of the online world have been. It just doesn’t fit my idiom. While I do miss out on having wikipedia available to me during any conversation, I can’t think of how I would use an iPhone. I don’t even like my regular phone and mostly use it to ignore calls.
    ________________________

    Oh yes. Someday, Rich, remind me to introduce you to <p> tags.

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  • http://www.aaronhall.com/ Minnesota Attorney

    Great review. However, two things have held me back from the iphone:

    1. It doesn’t fully integrate with Outlook. Sure, it supports some features, but it doesn’t sync with the Task list at all, and other syncing aspects are limited.

    2. It doesn’t sync with Microsoft OneNote. If there is an app that doesn’t this, please correct me. I would be very interested.

    Minnesota Attorneys last blog post..Minnesota DWI DUI Drunk Driving Attorney

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  • http://www.chronicleproject.org Brent Gudgel

    Good post. For me, getting an iphone was revolutionary like you describe. It allows so many new ways to communicate and access information, and it’s in a new timeframe. And that last line is the kicker. Well said.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    Thanks Brent. I find it’s the sort of thing you have to use regularly to really “get” the nature of it.

  • http://www.discerningthetimes.blogspot.com Matt Redmond

    A few weeks after I received my iPhone as a gift 6 months ago, I stopped and thought, “Rulers of nations would have conquered and killed for such technology just 50 years ago and I am holding this technology in my hand.”

    Matt Redmonds last blog post..Merry Xmas

  • http://isaiah48.blogspot.com/ Kim

    Last week I felt like I was watching a pre-view of a “Wall-e” world. We were surrounded by a group of teens who, instead of interacting with one another during a lull in action, were all standing, staring into phones. Some, my daughter included, were actually texting one another! I asked her later what she felt like she knew about her friends from being with them that night. She mentioned things she learned…what they like, what’s going on with them, what college plans someone’s made. But then I asked how they felt about what was going on. Where were they struggling? How did she feel about leaving for college? How was he doing? Her answer? Not a clue. The deepest level of talk that night was sacrificed for wikipedia type answers. What seems to be quickly overtaking any desire to even know why or how.

    Kims last blog post..Really? A month?

  • http://www.discerningthetimes.blogspot.com Matt Redmond

    Kim,

    Lest we be too judgmental, were you really all that different? The medium may change but the heart-problem has not changed…

    Matt Redmonds last blog post..Merry Xmas

  • Mink

    Actually, Matt, lest we be too judgmental, it sounds like Kim *did* have an actual interaction with her daughter that was caring and interested. Drawing a teen’s attention to the effects, both good or bad, of the technology in their life is an important parental task in any generation.

    Sheesh.

  • http://www.discerningthetimes.blogspot.com Matt Redmond

    All I am saying is that the discussion at hand, being about the iPhone has to do with the medium. The Students I work with (150 of them) have the same problem I had 20 years ago when I was a teen.

    Ditto on the sheesh.

    Matt Redmonds last blog post..Merry Xmas

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    While not one to jump on the texting bandwagon, I will echo that when I was a teen, we did not exactly have heart-to-heart discussions about the motives behind events or the feelings that circumstances engendered.

    My best friend would go to his father’s house every other weekend and I never once asked him how he felt about that or about his parent’s divorce generally. My other best friend was a Jehovah’s Witness and couldn’t celebrate birthdays and I never once asked how he felt about being so socially different from those around him.

    Teenagers are generally still trying to find the boundaries of the social ties in which they find themselves. And they do so with a precariousness that makes intrusive conversation topics undesirable. Not necessarily bad—just scary and maybe distasteful. A lot of times, they haven’t even explored their own feelings and motives for thing, so stepping out and requesting the feelings and motives of others isn’t even on the radar.

    So yeah, I think it makes sense that a group of teens—either texting or talking—wouldn’t come away from a conversation knowing things like how someone felt about what was going on or where someone was they struggling (especially where someone was struggling).

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

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