Aug 07, 2020 08:00am
By the Way, Your Smart Phone is Lying to You

Here’s a riddle for you:

What do we look at, on average, 63 times a day, for up to 4 hours, which affects our sleep patterns, our relationships, increases our stress and anxiety, depression and loneliness?

Ding ding ding! The smart phone! You can recognize true love these days when someone silences their phone in another’s presence. Whoa, that’s big-time love!

Now I think we can all agree phones themselves aren’t bad. In fact, they’re quite marvelous. Our access to communication, information, and entertainment is, well, instantaneous. And near infinite! However, there are bad ways to utilize them. We can, indeed, possess an unhealthy relationship with our phones.

Does your phone affect you?

As Christians who desire to wisely engage the culture around us, we gotta ask, “How is my phone affecting me?” Many aren’t unwilling to answer that. It takes introspection. It requires change. It forces is to be honest with our habits.

To even answer this question, we gotta know some things about ourselves. So that’s what I want to do now. You and I are made in God’s image.

He created us in a particular human way. Which means we have longings – specific needs – that must be met.

Let’s look through three of these. And, importantly, let’s identify how our phones lie about fulfilling our longings. Check it out:

  1. You long to be significant.

You want to matter. It’s hard-wired onto your heart. You desire your life to count. Settling for mediocrity isn’t human – you need significance. This is good. It’s how God made you. He made you to matter. 

But here’s how your smart phone is lying to you, “You matter so much that you’re actually the center of the universe.” Your phone is a little portal into your own universe, of which you are the reining “god.” It recognizes your face. You arranged the apps. And the social media algorithms are designed to pump content you already agree with into your RSS feeds, so that your opinion is constantly being confirmed, not challenged.

2) You have the longing to know.

Within you is a need for knowledge. You desire education and literacy. You also want to be in theknow. FOMO (fear of missing out)is a serious, visceral concern of yours. Something happening outside of your knowing frightens you. 

Further, you also long for a more deep, intimate knowledge of things and people. That’s where the phone swoops in with a lie: “I can offer you infinite intimate knowledge!” But no, no it can’t.

Although your phone contains a thousand libraries’ worth of knowledge (including forbidden knowledge, such as from porn sites), none is that deep, intimate knowledge we need

There is a difference between knowing something and knowing about something. Although my wife’s doctor knows about her more than I do (He could name the bones of her body, the chemical processes of her brain, etc.) I know her more. 

Our phones can tell us about people. But we can’t know, like, really know, people solely via smart phones. It is a lie.

So, what do our phones promise us? An infinite supply of information. You have, right now in your pocket, a hundred libraries worth of information. Not to mention 10,000 porn sites, online dating apps, gambling sites – and so much more. Your phone is the single most powerful thing ever invented. And 10 year olds own them. 

3) You have the longing to be known

Finally, you long to be known, affirmed, accepted, and not invisible. It’s human and it’s good. Let’s admit it: it’s a scary thing to be known! Like, what if someone knows you and then rejects you? AHH! There’s nothing worse for a human. Still, you have that longing. 

Again, your smart phone is lying to you: “Oh, I’ll get you known. I’ll get you hundreds if not thousands of friends. And followers. And fans. 

They’ll marvel at your life through your posted pics and videos!”

But is this what it means to be known? Of course not.

Sadly, in an age where we are “connected” more than ever before, disconnection has skyrocketed.

As has loneliness. Sleep deprivation. Depression. Teen suicide. These are all byproducts of a digitized society.

The cycle

When left unsatisfied, these longings start working together to create a horrendous cycle. In desperation, we start doing whatever it takes to fulfill these needs. Porn. Sexting. Gambling sites. Cyberbullying. Frantic social media strategies to grow traffic. Man, you name it. All of these stem from the combination of unsatisfied human longings and the fact that your smart phone is lying to you. How, then, are they satisfied?

The gospel

The good news of Jesus fully satisfies the longings to be significant, to know and to be known. When you’re adopted into the family of God, you instantly become a prince or princess. You are a co-heir with Christ, a conqueror, a saint – you are the very child of God. You’re given a mission, a purpose. A hope. 

You, more and more, grow to know Jesus – and you learn how profoundly he knows you, too. It frees you to lean into the world, and access your smart phone, without unmet needs. You aren’t starved for attention.

You need no approval. You’re not lost in another stint of boredom – you’re on mission.

Only the gospel unlocks this sort of living. 

Only Jesus satisfies these human longings.

Copyright © 2020 by Justin Talbert @ Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from