Ping! Ping! Ping! Every time my phone pings with a notification I spring into action. The haptic vibration on my watch or the “ding” of my phone sends a rush of endorphins into my brain that leads me to respond to the distraction similar to Pavlov’s dog. Am I the only one?
If you happen to watch the “Social Dilemma”, a Netflix documentary, you are aware of the intentional social programming that conditions our brains to respond to notifications and feed the marketing machine of smartphones. Needless to say, I feel dumb having given into the social experiment.
We succumb to this responsive habit largely because we need to be needed or perhaps we fear missing out on the latest gossip. While we need to learn to adjust our notification settings and spend less time on our phones, this global habit is one symptom of the noise that surrounds our life, consumes our minds, and distracts our focus.
The consequence may include missing out on real and in-person conversations going on around us, but more tragically it contributes to the likelihood that we miss what God may want to reveal.
The beauty of nature is replaced with pixels and the power of face-to-face interaction is replaced with emojis. It is like someone who may be in a position to view a beautiful sunset in the mountains but instead is consumed with looking at their phone.
One can see this also illustrated in the complaining attitude of the Israelites in Exodus 15. Just three days prior they witnessed God orchestrate a miraculous deliverance from the Egyptian army as they marched on dry land through the split sea. Even though God visibly guided their every path according to His plan, they were so consumed with their physical need for water that they doubted God’s ability.
In their need they didn’t even cry out to God, instead, they blamed Moses and murmured with discontentment.
Before we throw stones at the complaining Israelites, we must admit our negative attitudes that are consumed with our own wants that we may miss what God is doing. Rather than consuming our minds with distractions that culture floods, we must humbly position ourselves to willingly see what God is doing and what He desires to teach us.
This doesn’t require us to burn our smartphones, but it may motivate us to block out times in our day to be alone with the Lord. By eliminating distractions we may be better positioned to hear Him speak and prayerfully respond with a heart of obedience.