Smartphones can be great tools, but can also distract us from what really matters in life.
Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Or maybe you begin searching Google or YouTube for something in particular, but find yourself an hour later watching cat videos?
While taking a break from life and enjoying a little entertainment isn’t a bad thing, what can be harmful is when our idle behavior ignores those who matter most in our lives.
Unfortunately many of us are guilty of getting trapped within our phones or computers and ignoring our children, family members or friends. We might even find ourselves neglecting our duties at work because of our habit of constantly checking our phone to see what’s new on our social media feed.
This addicting habit of ours could be described by past spiritual masters as “idleness.” While our brain may not be idle while we scroll through our phone, we temporarily put our lives on hold when we do such things and are idle, not going forward with any specific purpose in mind. Smartphone entertainment has its time and place, but often we don’t restrict it and allow it to permeate every minute of our day.
Idleness can be spiritually harmful as it turns our souls inward, looking more at ourselves and our needs than those around us. It naturally leads to lazy behavior, where we neglect our responsibilities and do not live up to our vocation. Our child might be trying to ask us a question and instead of answering it, we ignore them and scroll through our phone.
While this behavior is difficult to change overnight, the first step is in acknowledging its negative effects and praying to God for help. We can’t do this alone and need God at our side in order to overcome our temptations.
Here is a short prayer that asks God to help us overcome our habit and focus our lives on the people who are right in front of us.
O God, whom I have displeased by squandering away, on worldly cares and idle vanities, so many, many hours of that existence which was given to me for the performance of good works, for my own sanctification, and for the edification of my neighbors; keep me, Lord, from all such waste of time. May your grace teach me to remember that I shall have to give an account of the manner in which I shall have spent every hour; and may this remembrance prompt me to employ the rest of my life in working out my salvation.Teach me to remember that, on this very day, and on every day of my life, it is my first duty to glorify you, my God; to imitate you, my Jesus; to resist temptations; to overcome my passions; to make the most of my time; to think on eternity and to pay attention to those who matter most in my life.These are my first calls: teach me to remember them—enable me to fulfill them; and never let me idle away one single hour in vanities or in worldly matters that may hinder me from performing those duties which you have entrusted to me. Amen.
Smartphones: A delight, and … a cross