How do you start off your day?
For many of us, the first thing in our hands when we wake up is our cell phone. Whether it is checking for messages and emails, scrolling through Facebook, checking the news, or playing a quick game to wake up, the phone is in our hands almost instantly. We do not question it. It is almost second nature. The smartphone is a familiar device.
This is our normal. Connectedness is our normal.
As we progress throughout our day, this connectedness does not stop. We don’t want it to! Dr. Jim Taylor says, “These days, the expectation is that we can be connected in many ways at any time by anyone. The default is connectivity, so being connected has become the norm. Any break from that norm feels like a loss.” We get caught up in fast-paced living, letting the culture of connectedness dictate our need for communication. Our need for constant access to everything. We are impatient, and want everything to come to us instantly.
And we are also overworked.
Our constant state of needing connection to each other has also shown others that they can be connected to us. By staying connected to the world around us, we are also making ourselves available to the world.
We portray ourselves as connected, accessible, real, and involved. The downside of this is when others see this. If our social media presence is continual, we will be expected to be present. If we always have our phones at work, the boss will expect you to answer your phone outside of work as well. This is where it gets more dangerous.
This is where stress comes into play.
There is a danger when we are continually available that we have no time to recharge. To rest. To be still.
These are values that we as Christians should have. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This verse has long been understood to teach us that in the stillness, God is present. When we let go of the things around us, we can find Him there. [Here is one of my favorite resources on this topic]
This is not just a Christian thing, however. A recent study came to this conclusion, “The results demonstrate that nonwork hours during which employees are required to remain available for work cannot be considered leisure time because employees’ control over their activities is constrained and their recovery from work is restricted.” Always being “on call” is a massive strain. It gives us no time to re-energize.
It also requires us to live a life always based on the approval of others. We must always be available for the people in our life. We must always do a good job for them. The boss could contact us at any minute, so we had better respond quickly!
Existing in this state is taxing. It wears us out. It should not be maintained.
We need to take breaks. We need to rest.
We need to put down the phones, and let our real surroundings impact us.
At the dinner table, hearing your son talk about how his teacher told a funny joke or his friend got a new dog, and seeing the joy on his face needs to be the most important thing. It is not time to read the email from the boss, stressing you out about tomorrow’s assignments. This cannot happen unless the parent puts down their phone. We must learn to set a precedent of valuing real interaction.
There are certainly times where we want and need to be accessible. However, when the time comes to be accessible to one rather than all, we need to be able to switch gears and set everything straight. We cannot become slaves to our devices.