By Reba Phelps
The notification arrives every single Sunday morning at 9:00am Central Standard Time. Its arrival is never late, never early and is delivered as if I had paid a hefty premium for this service. The bell toned sound completely jars me every time. My heart starts to beat a little faster and my anxiety rises a notch or two. Sometimes I will ignore it for a while as if it will merely disappear.
If you have an iPhone then you are aware of the weekly Screen Time report that gives a detailed and unaltered report of how much time you have spent with your phone in your hand. Every social media site that you visit is itemized by minutes spent on each one. Your choice of streaming services is detailed out minute per minute. Our phones even record how many times you pick it up on a daily basis.
I was astonished that in one I day I had picked up my phone one hundred and forty-nine times. What is wrong with me?
The judgmental report also discloses the amount of time that you were “productive”. I am not sure how they can assess that but they do.
The Screen Time report also never fails to deliver a healthy does of condemnation that produces so much lingering guilt. Never enough guilt to alter my ways though.
On this particular day the guilt hit a little different. I just stared at the screen and could not believe that I had wasted so many hours with my phone in my hand. I always tried to justify my screen time. The hours texting was mainly my children and clients. The social media was typically just keeping up with constituents, fielding questions about school related matters, and sharing informational articles.
As my thirteen year old loves to say….I was “sitting on a throne of lies”.
The truth was I spending hours watching TikTok videos. If you watch one TikTok it quickly multiplies to fifty videos in the blink of an eye. I was Snap chatting friends and reading an overabundance of ridiculous drama on Facebook that will never be resolved on a public platform. At this point, I really had to take a good inventory of where I was spending my time and how I was feeling after participating in so much screen time and so very little face to face time with the people who live with me.
Keep in mind that their faces are buried in their screens constantly as well. They are not blameless. My younger one loves TikTok and has quarantined her way through almost 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. My oldest lives a double life as a blonde avatar on SnapChat and could honestly become a personal shopper for the rich and famous as much time as she spends browsing boutique pages on Instagram.
We all have our issues here. We all guilty.
It was becoming evident to me that once I came home in the evenings, completed my household duties and made a meal that our faces were completely spellbound by some sort of screen time. Before we knew it, bedtime was looming and we had not had a lot of conversation about our day. We were losing authentic face to face time and page time. We were barely even reading paper pages of a book anymore.
Our screen time is where our heart is. When we scroll mindlessly and judge every single comment we see, or post that does not align with our own thoughts and beliefs… it steals a little of our peace and our heart. It steals our hope. It was stealing my hope to only see the good in people. I was freely sacrificing my peace of mind at the altar of social media.
It was simply not working for me anymore.
In times like this, with so much turmoil and unrest in the world, it is so easy to fix our eyes on a temporary distraction that may cause a moment of joy or entertainment. As for me and my house we will always struggle with our screen time. But, deep down we do know that we when fix our eyes on something more eternal than our screens there is a multitude of peace, joy and comfort to be found.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:2-3