The Best Quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

The Best Quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You September 14, 2017

 

This year I have been giving time to reading on the effects that our digital culture is having on our lives. This journey is taken me through some works that are not explicitly Christian like Deep WorkThe Lonely AmericanIrresistible, and Alone Together. (This week I picked up World Without Mind and The Tech-Wise Family, which is explicitly Christian.) Tony Reinke approaches the issue from a God-centered perspective in his book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. In looking at how we think about and use our phones, he explores the inner workings of our hearts and causes us to see how something that seems as harmless as a glance at a screen can have serious spiritual repercussions.

In these “best quotes” posts, I usually like to share my favorite twenty. For Reinke’s work, I started with a list of over fifty and had a difficult time cutting them down. This is an important book and I hope these quotes whet your appetite. These are the best quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.

“If we must give an account of every idle word, we are probably the first generation that can truly appreciate the volume of our idle words, since we have published more of them that any group in human history.” (24)

“The glowing screen on my phone projects into my eyes the desires and loves that live in the most abstract corners of my heart and soul, finding visible expression in pixels of images, video, and text for me to see and consume and type and share. This means that whatever happens on my smart phone, especially under the guise of anonymity, is the true expose of my heart, reflected in full-color pixels back into my eyes.” (27)

“We find ourselves in the middle of this garden-to-city unfolding of history, and God is governing the entire process in several ways. Between the guardrails of natural law, as well as the guardrails of the abundance and scarcity of certain raw materials in the earth, and carried forward through his image bearers, each wired for innovation, the trajectory of technological progress–from the garden to the city–was set in motion. This process is entirely initiated, intended, and guided by God.” (31)

“We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives.” (41)

“As digital distractions intrude into our lives at an unprecedented rate, behavioral scientists and psychologists offer statistical proof in study after study: the more addicted you become to your phone the more prone you are to depression and anxiety, and the less you are able to work and sleep at night.” (43)

“The human appetite for distraction is high in every age, because distractions give us an easy escape from the silence and solitude whereby we become acquainted with our finitude, our inescapable mortality, and the distance of God from all our desires, hopes, and pleasures.” (45)

“Distraction management is a critical skill for spiritual health, and no less in the digital age.” (51)

“My phone can connect me to many friends, but it can also decouple me from an expectation for real-life engagement. When I go into my social media streams, too often I use Facebook to insulate me from the real needs of my friends. Facebook becomes a safe and sanitized room where I can watch the ups and downs as an anonymous spectator, with no compulsive impulse to respond and care in any meaningful way.” (53)

“Our typing thumbs lack empathy without living faces in front of us. It is much easier to slander an online avatar than a real-life brother.” (59)

“Maybe this is a key function of church attendance in the digital age. We must withdraw from our online worlds to gather as a body in our local churches. We gather to be seen, to feel awkward, and perhaps to feel a little unheard and underappreciated, all on purpose. In obedience to the biblical command not to forsake meeting together, we each come as one small piece, one individual member, one body part, in order to find purpose, life, and value in union with the rest of the living body of Christ.” (72)

“The more time I spend reading ten-second tweets and skimming random articles online, the more it affects my attention span, weakening the muscles I need to read Scripture for long distances. But before we delete our Bible apps, we should consider that studies also tell us that Christian readers are more faithful to follow digital Bible reading plans on smartphones (with daily prompts) than print plans and offline reading.” (85)

“Photography is a blessing, but if we impulsively turn to our camera apps too quickly, our minds can fail to capture the true moments and the rich details of an experience in exchange for visually flattened memories.” (98)

“It’s awkward to say it this way, but like Narcissus staring down into the water, enchanted with himself, we bend over our phones–and what most quickly captures our attention is our own reflection: our replicated images, our tabulations of approval, and our accumulated ‘likes.’” (109)

“In the digital age, we idolize our phones when we lose the ability to ask if they help us (or hurt us) in reaching our spiritual goals.” (115)

“The smartphone is causing a social reversal: the desire to be alone in public and never in seclusion. We can be shielded in public and surrounded in isolation, meaning we can escape the awkwardness of human interaction on the street and the boredom of solitude in our homes. Or so we think.” (124)

“Every attempt to bleach-wash our digital footprint is vain. You can delete the most immature images from your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds. But nothing you do on your phone, have ever done on your phone, or will ever do on your phone is secret. Eternal regret will follow forever for private smartphone clicks happening right now. Before God, our browsing history remains a permanent record of our sin and shame–unless he shows mercy. Before his omniscient eyes, our browsing history can be washed clean only with the blood of Christ.” (138)

“When I grow bored with Christ, I become bored with life–and when that happens. I often turn to my phone for a new consumable digital thrill. It is my default habit.” (143)

“In all the noise, we must embrace our freedom in Christ, as we step back from the onslaught of online publishing and the proliferation of digital sages. By grace, we are free to close our news sources, close our life-hacking apps, and power down our phones in order to simply feast in the presence of friends and enjoy our spouses and families in the mystery, majesty, and ‘thickness’ of human existence.” (151)

“Christians, perhaps like never before, are tempted to remain tethered to the daily news cycle, viral videos, political forecasts, and entertainment gossip. Our hyperconnection is fueled by our FOMO. We hate being left out, so we focus on every Next Big Thing, such as the upcoming blockbuster film. And we forget about big, glorious realities like the inbreaking new creation of God.” (155)

“There’s a very real temptation for those who are not called into a certain situation to attempt to judge cases remotely, make premature conclusions, and then attract an online groundswell of support. But crowdsourcing verdicts and spreading unfounded conclusions online can destroy the reputation of a Christian.” (166)

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