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    12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

    Thursday, July 11, 2019

    We are all aware that our phones play a huge part in our everyday life and in our every moment. But just how much does it affect us? I would say more than we know and more than we are willing to admit. Tony Reinke’s book “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” is a convicting and informational read. He seeks to help the reader answer the question: “What is the best use of my smartphone in the flourishing of my life?” (pg. 20)

    The 12 ways that he talks about are: 1) we are addicted to distraction, 2) we ignore our flesh and blood, 3) we crave immediate approval, 4) we lose our literacy, 5) we feed on the produced, 6) we become like what we “like”, 7) we get lonely, 8) we get comfortable in secret vices, 9) we lose meaning, 10) we fear missing out, 11) we become harsh to one another, and 12) we lose our place in time.

    While I found myself guilty of each one on some level, some chapters resonated more than others. The first one being distractions. I am addicted to distraction, especially when I don’t want to work, when I’m stressed, and when I want to avoid a situation. Satan uses this as a tactic to get me from missing out on my purpose - specifically my purpose as a single woman: to be concerned about the things of the Lord. Instead, I’m concerned about how many likes I’ve gotten or seeing the latest Instagram story or catching up on all the Twitter news. Our “smartphones amplify the most unnecessary distractions as they deaden us to the most significant and important ‘distractions,’ the true needs of our families and neighbors. My phone conditions me to be a passive observer” (pg. 52).

    I was also convicted about the section on the cost of seeking human approval of our obedience to the Lord. Reinke gives the example of going on a missions trip and then posting pictures online, seeking man’s approval. “In one humble-brag selfie, the trade is made - eternal reward from God is sold for the porridge of maybe eighty likes and twelve comments of praise” (pg. 76). Am I satisfied with the approval of God alone?

    Reinke’s chapter on “We Become Like What We Like” touched a sensitive spot. He compares Narcissus and his obsession with himself to us today. “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’” (pg. 109). I have found that I am definitely Narcissistic. I love to see good pictures of myself (taken with the best lighting and perfect angle of course). I love to be loved, liked, and commented on. Will my demise be similar to Narcissus who “noticed his reflection in the bottom of a well, jumped in, and drowned” (pg. 109). Will I drown myself spiritually in being consumed with myself?  

    The book wraps up with the conclusive chapter “Living Smartphone Smart.” Reinke couples researched facts with biblical truth and presents them in an applicable way for the twenty-first century. After reading this book, I decided to take a week off of all social media. I found FOMO really was a thing in my life. I had lost meaning in things happening around me. I felt as if what I was doing was not significant if it wasn’t posted on social media. It never really happened unless it was on Facebook, right? After reading, I also decided not to get on any social media first thing in the morning - definitely not until after I had spent time with the Lord. This is crucial time for spiritually readying myself for the day.

    So put down your phone and start reading this book! It challenged me and made me more aware of my habits and my thought processes when it comes to my digital device. I challenge you to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to use the information to convict your heart of any changes that may need to take place. There is no pressure to throw your smartphone out the window or to deactivate your Instagram for a year. Just allow yourself to wrestle with the information presented. Don't think of other people, because there are always people who are more addicted to their phones than you. Instead, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart for any habits, motives, or actions that may need to change in your digital life.

    Which of the 12 areas do you most struggle with?

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