Are We Becoming Less Human Through Smartphones?

Chris Heinz —  August 2, 2011 — 1 Comment

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I’m not the only one to say there are signs you’re addicted to your smartphone.

In an article for the Associated Press, Ellen Gibson writes about the “growing obsession among people who would much rather interact with their smartphones than with other human beings.” Call it smartphone obsession.  It’s destroying human relationships.

Not only does it cause deception (“I’m going to check my email in front of you without you knowing it”), smartphone obsession creates immaturity in face-to-face communication. Instead of pushing through the discomfort of meeting someone new or not knowing anyone at a party, smartphones lure us back to comfort. We don’t have to learn how to talk with people who are different from us because we can pick up our smartphones and feel right at home. Smartphones are short cuts to comfort. But sometimes comfort shortchanges us from growth.

Sometimes the nervous feelings we get around new people or in new environments are good. They help us to reach out and form connections. Remember life before smartphones? If you stumbled upon a stranger or found yourself waiting in line,  you would say hello, meet someone new, make small talk. But not anymore. Now we hover over our smartphones, trying to avoid eye contact, fixed on ourselves. But all along we’re cutting off fellowship with our immediate neighbor.

What does it mean to love our neighbor? Certainly not ignore him or her.

I fear for what smartphones are doing to us as people. We might be more productive, but are we becoming less human?

It is a basic human response to create community, to warm our surroundings, to engage with our neighbors. What happens when we forfeit these activities for solitary movements on dead hardware? Aren’t our affections for something else, then? Not love for our neighbor?

In “Are You Obsessed With Your Smartphone?,” Gibson reveals that 35% of all U.S. adults own a smartphone (count one less person since I got rid of my smartphone). Of this 35%, two-thirds “sleep with their phones right next to their beds.”

Sounds less human to me.

Chris Heinz

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For more than 15 years, CS Heinz has mobilized people to pray. He’s the author of Made to Pray: Imagine a Better Time with God, and its companion prayer assessment. A former company chaplain and house church pastor, Heinz is the vice president of marketing for EnergyCAP, Inc. He lives with his family in central Pennsylvania, where he blogs about prayer, power, and the presence of God at www.CSHeinz.com. He has appeared in Charisma Magazine, Extant Magazine, the Christian Post, and the Centre Daily Times. He serves on the National Committee of Mission America Coalition, and has ministered in Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.

One response to Are We Becoming Less Human Through Smartphones?

  1. I’m not so convinced on the productivity either…guess that depends upon your occupation.

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