Ok, so today let’s talk about the digital life and how it affects this area of slow living as Jesus followers.
So first, I want to explore one of the problems we have at the moment when it comes to hurry: our smartphones.
Now, don’t get me wrong! Smartphones have some fantastic tools, provide us with access to great content, and allow us to connect with people across the globe.
We can listen to podcasts while doing the laundry, write and dictate while walking in the park, and learn languages while at the hairdresser.
Yet, used in the wrong way, our smartphones can lead us to a life of distraction, hurry and even spiritual oblivion to God. The question is perhaps why.
Listen to this content here:
Why smartphones cause us to hurry
Smartphones causes us to hustle and hurry
Smartphones are designed around the engagement for profit business model. In other words, they are designed to capture as much of our attention as possible to sell that attention to advertisers.
Tristan Harris, Google’s former design ethicist said this about the smartphone “It’s not designed to help us. It’s just designed to keep us hooked.”
According to him, smartphones were designed with the same logic as slot machines, which, by the way, make more money in the US than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined.
This is because of variable schedule reward. In lay terms, slot machines were designed to addict users in that you sometimes get rewarded with a win, and sometimes you don’t. It’s random, and there’s no way to predict when the reward will come.
Our smartphones have been designed in exactly the same way.
Smartphones like slot machines
Sometimes we get a reward: an email about an exciting work opportunity, a notification about a new video on our favourite YouTube channel, an encouraging comment on social media.
But then at other times, there’s no reward: no exciting email, no new video, no social media engagement.
And so the unpredictability of when the reward will come is the very driving force of the addictiveness.
When we’re addicted to our phones, three things happen.
The first is that when our brains become accustomed to the speed of our phones, we become increasingly less able to deal with the speed of real life and real people.
When we get into a habit of listening to podcasts on double speed, ordering items and getting them delivered the same day, and consuming fast and varied content at the scroll of our fingertips, we become impatient whenever real life happens and real people take longer than we’d like to act, speak or move.
The second thing that happens when we’re addicted to our technological devices (and especially our phones because they’re with us everywhere) is that we lose track of time. This in turn leads us to rush and hustle once we realize how much time we spent on our smartphones instead of doing our regular work and carrying out our responsibilities.
The third thing that happens when we’re addicted to the digital life and our smartphones is that the overload of information we receive becomes overwhelming and then in our need to process it all, we lose patience with the very real problems before us.
So, if we want to live more like Jesus and adopt the slower lifestyle rhythm He had while on earth, we need to really think of reducing the amount of time we spend on our digital devices.
Digital minimalism for the Jesus Mama
What does digital minimalism mean for Christian mamas?
Digital minimalism is a hip term, but basically what that means for us as Christians is that we need to be intentional in using our digital devices for God’s glory and not let them rule over us.
This comes with understanding when God wants us to engage with Him and the real world around us, instead of living in a constant state of distraction from the present.
As Jesus followers, adopting digital minimalism is not an end in itself or something that will save us or make us righteous. In Christ, we have been cleansed and redeemed. Halleluiah!
Reducing technology is simply about slowing down and spending time with God and with others.
It’s not allowing our spiritual lives to become secondary to our digital lives – even if we’re doing great things online!
As mamas, digital minimalism means spending time with our children with our phones turned off, listening to them instead of listening to a podcast or music, and playing with them in the space and time God has provided us with.
So how can we actually become digital minimalists and use our technological devices more intentionally?
Here are three quick ways.
3 Ways to adopt digital minimalism as a lifestyle
1. Make our smartphones less addictive
Use your smarphone less by making it less addictive!
One of the best ways to use our digital devices more intentionally and not let them rule over us is to make our phones less addictive. We can do this by:
1. Changing lighting to greyscale
2. Removing unused apps
3. Removing social media apps
4. Turning off all non-human notifications
5. Putting our phone on focus mode (where we choose to disable certain apps)
6. Setting aside specific times of the day for email and messages
2. Become less reliant on digital devices
Become less reliant on digital devices and your smarphone specifically
Another thing we can do to help us reduce our technology consumption and thus slow down enough to hear God’s voice and engage with others, is to become less reliant on our digital devices. We can do this by:
1. Not using digital devices the first hour after getting up and the last one before bed
2. Always spending time with God before using our digital devices
3. Becoming less reliant on our phone’s tools and getting an alarm clock, an analogue watch, and even an ipod for podcasts
4. Using our car’s GPS systems instead of maps on our phones
5. Going out the house sans phone
3. Choose digital-free activities in your free time
Choose digital-free activities like reading a paper book
Finally, we can also reduce our digital-focused activities by not just removing them, but also introducing digital-free activities. We can do this by taking up:
1. Outdoors exercise
2. Reading paper books (remember them?)
6. Doing housework without background noise
7. Writing poetry, letters, or stories on paper
As Jesus-following mamas who want to learn how to lean into His rhythms of intentional time with God and with others, it’s important we reduce our exposure to digital devices that distract us from the moment.
As Christians we can take on an attitude of digital minimalism, where we use our devices intentionally, while understanding that digital minimalism isn’t our saviour – Jesus is.
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