Confessions of a Smartphone Email Addict

ball and chainIt started out as a joke, the piece called “15 Signs You’re Addicted to Email on Your Smartphone.” But as I thought more about it, I realized it had teeth. Some of these things were true for me—I did check email on my Smartphone an awful lot.

At first I tried to minimize and justify:

I’m a company director, so I’m just being responsible.
I’m an aspiring writer, what if my agent emails me?
I’m in community with people, what if they need me?
Oh come on, it can’t be that bad.

But as I worked on the 15 signs, I had a sinking feeling: I came up with them way too easily. Way too easily because they were all true for me. I didn’t have to research or imagine what Smartphone Email Addiction might look like because I saw it right before me, right inside of me. The 15 signs were my behavior, taken from the pages of my life.

This concept wasn’t new to me. Two years ago I wrote a fictional piece called “Time Traveler” and recently, a blog post called “Missing the Glory.” I have been aware of my tendencies, but now I’m ready to deal with them.

The boy tries to hide, but the man takes ownership. I am a Smartphone Email Addict.

Some of you might laugh, but I’m not trying to be funny. I’m not trying to be dramatic. This is me being honest. One thing I’m called to do in this lifetime is to lay my life out in words so that others might be changed. I agree there might be worse things to be addicted to. But for me, this addiction has damaged my relationship with God and people I care about. Heck, it might even have hurt you.

When I see unread messages on my phone, that’s all I can think about. If you’re right in front of me, I don’t see you or hear you. I just wonder what’s on my phone. When I wake up in the morning, my heart beats faster because I can check my email. When I check and there are no new messages, I check again two minutes later, hoping to correct this terrible wrong. When a new message comes through, I am rewarded for my actions and my behavior is reinforced—see, it pays to check it every two minutes.

But things cannot go on like this. I fear for what it’s doing to my walk with God, how it’s separating me from others, and what it reveals about my own identity. This is my confession: I’m addicted to email on my Smartphone. On my own, I can’t handle it.

So here’s the first thing I’m going to do: I’m getting rid of my iPhone. It’s not as simple as turning off the data plan because data plans are required on iPhones. So I must discard the iPhone altogether, addicted to it as I am.

But changing the behavior isn’t all there is. You must also change the heart, dig into it, and see what’s there. Because if you change the behavior but not the heart, the addiction will take another form. So I’m entering into prayer and introspection. I’ll examine these 15 signs, account for the damage, and ask why, in the pursuit of a changed heart.

I’m excited for what’s over the horizon when I’m not chained to my phone.

Chris believes we're all looking for purpose and joy at work. He's the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., where he helps employees to succeed. He's also a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. He loves to coach people, write, and speak around the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, and growth. He blogs often at ChrisHeinz.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Smartphone Email Addict

  1. Good article.  Sadly this is true of most technology and I think is one of the enemy’s tools to keep us from true community.  Texting, ipods, computers, etc.  seem to woo us away from the things we often should be focusing on.  Go to a restaurant sometime and just sit and watch the couples.  There will inevitably be at least one couple not talking or being together and every few minutes looking at their mobile device.  I hope that I always honor my wife with my undivided attention, but sadly I too have to recondition my habits.

    Thanks Chris.

  2. At first, I didn’t know whether to take you seriously on this or not (Smart Phone addiction?), but if you are convicted that it’s serious, I’ll take it that way.
    So appreciate your heart to lay everything in your life before Jesus.
    Also deeply appreciate your transparency and vulnerability to share so openly with all of us on your email distribution list.
    I pray you find new release, freedom and joy in walking this out.