Book Review: How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price

The alarm bells are blaring. People are beginning to realize that we have run down a path without knowing where the path leads. Even people within the digital media industry are stepping out and calling for us to pause, step back and consider where these new technologies lead. What do they do to us as individuals? How do they impact societies?

Catherine Price sums it up nicely in her introduction:

The problem isn’t smartphones themselves. The problem is our relationship with them. Smartphones have infiltrated our lives so quickly and so thoroughly that we have never stopped to think about what we actually want our relationships with them to look like—or what effects these relationships might have on our lives.

The consumer may have run blindly into our present relationship with smartphones and other digital technology. But, as Price notes, the creators of these technologies had an end in mind. They were not creating a product, but a platform, a marketplace of sorts. In this digital marketplace, the consumer would feel like the customer but would, in fact, be the product. Your attention is the product and advertisers are the true customers.

This concise book is an excellent starting point for anyone who is uncomfortable with their present relationship with their smartphone or other digital media. It comes in two parts: the wake-up and the breakup.

In the wake-up, Price presents the facts of how digital technologies are designed for addiction. They wire our brains for distraction and prohibit focus. They kill our attention span, mess with our memory, and steal our sleep.

…if you wanted to invent a device that could retire our minds, if you wanted to create a society of people who were perpetually distracted, isolated, and overtired, if you wanted to weaken our memories and damage our capacity for focus and deep thought, if you wanted to reduce empathy, encourage self-absorption, and redraw the lines of social etiquette, you’d likely end up with a smartphone.

In the breakup, Price provided practical advice on how we can take back ownership of our relationship with our smartphones and other digital media. This section is full of tips and tricks that you can implement immediately that will improve your “digital hygiene.” This section of the book encourages us to pause and ask, “What do I want to pay attention to?”

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Margin: A Book Review

There is nothing like a free book! Okay, maybe I should say that there is nothing like a free book that is also a book worth reading. Especially if it comes just when you need it. That is exactly what happened to me when I downloaded Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. to my Kindle after Melanie Shock tweeted that the e-book was free for a day.

In this book Dr. Swenson makes a strong case (with a Christian perspective) against progress as we know it. That is progress defined and dominated by money, technology, and education. All three offer value but they do not do much to meet our transcendent needs. “What about the relational life?” asks Dr. Swenson. After all, life is all about relationships; with God, with ourselves, and with others.

“As we have already seen, progress builds by using the tools of economics, education, and technology. But what are the tools of the relational life? Are they not the social (my relationship to others), the emotional (my relationship to myself), and the spiritual (my relationship to God)? None of the tools of progress has helped build the relational foundation our society requires.”

Along with this false sense of progress comes the incredible rate of change that our society now faces. Change does not happen linearly, it happens exponentially. As a result “the circumstances of our age are quantitatively different from anything previously encountered, and the dramatic nature of this difference is consistently underestimated.”

“No one in the history of humankind has ever had to live with the number and intensity of stressors we have acting upon us today. They are unprecedented. The human spirit is called upon to withstand rapid changes and pressures never before encountered.”

These problems and others have combined forces to rob us of any remaining margin in our lives. The results have been catastrophic! We are on a collision course with self-destruction and the only way to avoid a disaster is to change our ways.

Progress and change have stolen our margin and we must buy it back. Dr. Swenson prescribes that we take a healthy dose of margin in emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. These medicines can be administered through contentment, simplicity, balance, and rest.

This book, written in 2004, carries even more relevance today than when it was written. Do yourself a favor and read this book. Restore the margins. Restore relationships.

God Wants You To Eat Your Vegetables

“If it tastes good, spit it out!” said the 70+ year old man who pulls his SUV around for a workout.  I saw his story on the news a few months back (tried to find a clip, but couldn’t come up with anything…sorry).  He and is wife are both over 70, yet they are in incredible physical shape.  They both practice a form of primitive workout and diet.  Their exercises resemble tasks that primitive man would have done; chase supper, kill supper, drag supper home.  Their diet consists only of things that primitive man would have eaten; no tv dinners, no frozen pizzas, no processed food period! (Sounds like no fun to me).

I kind of laughed when he said, “if it tastes good, spit it out,” but I think he was serious.  Now obviously this is a little extreme, but he has a point.  We always want the goodies, but we need something that is good for us (physically and spiritually).  And what is good for us is not always what tastes the best.  In fact, sometimes it tastes downright awful.  And sorry Mary Poppins fans, good lessons don’t always come with a spoon full of sugar; but they are good for us in the end.

So what’s my point?  Thanks for asking.  If you have a pastor that will preach the Truth to you in love without sugar-coating it, be thankful that someone cares enough about you to make you eat your vegetables.  If God is correcting you because of some sin in your life, don’t be angry; “for the Lord reproves him whom he loves” (Proverbs 3:12).  He is making sure you get the stuff that will make you strong.  He could just give you the stuff that tastes good, but with out good nutrition, you will die.

Now stop scooping those veggies to the dog under the table…eat up, it will make you strong! 🙂