I had a dream the night after I got rid of my iPhone. In the dream, I’m watching a home movie of myself. In the movie, I’m at the beach, playing in the surf. The tide rolls in, then rolls out, and I chase it. I notice something in the shallow surf, so I pick it up. It’s a baby shark. As I watch the movie, I gasp. Why would I pick up a shark?
But on the beach, I draw baby shark close and hug it. Then I kiss it several times on its mouth. I love baby shark.
From the viewing room, I shake my head in horror. What am I doing? Don’t I know how dangerous it is to play with a shark?
Eventually I place baby shark in the water and it swims away. That’s when I wake up.
Psalm 7.15 says, “He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.”
I never intended my smartphone use to get out of control. In the beginning it was a helpful tool. I could stay on top of emails by having email always with me. I could delete junk mail on my phone so at my computer, I could be ultra productive. But somewhere along the way it went bad.
Baby sharks grow up to be adult sharks, don’t you know.
Somehow the desire for productivity turned into a need for significance. Receiving email started to affect my sense of identity. I would feel better about myself if I got email, and worse about myself if I didn’t. New messages sang loudly to me, “See, you matter.” No new messages tormented me, “You don’t matter.” And so email messages began to shape my self-concept.
They also gave me a false sense of control. There are some dreams, mighty and magnificent ones, on which I’m waiting, and email will announce their progress. I’ll find out over email if I’m closer to attaining them. So as I wait for these hopeful things to happen, I check my email obsessively. It seems the more I check my email for them, the greater the chance they’ll happen. Or at least I’ll get news about them. Some days they seem so out of reach.
And so for me, my sense of identity and calling, and trust and hope, are twisted into my email use. And I have to untwist them, pry them from the shark’s mouth. This is my work for now.