A blog post has been making it's way through social media and I've seen it referred to a few times. Sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. Every time I see it though it just rubs me the wrong way and I go through a whole list of thoughts in my head. I feel as though it's time that I write them out.
I preface this with a couple things though.
First off, I can't imagine writing a blog post, having it go viral, and having to deal with the backlash of inevitably differing viewpoints about that. I don't envy the author having to wade through that aspect and I don't write this post to be one more person speaking down about what was written.
Second, I understand the original intent of the blog post. I see some value in what was said. I just have some real issue with a few things about it.
I see the intended message of her blog post as being: Let's all be more aware of how often we are using the technology that is available to us.
Here's what else it did though in my mind.
The way it is set up leads the reader to put themselves in the shoes of one of the two characters. Either you are mom "A" looking on at the iPhone user and finding yourself steeped in self-righteousness (as seen by the comments this mom makes in her head to the other mom and by the comments in the comment section of women going on and on about how they see horrible mothers do this themselves) or you are mom "B" on the iPhone living under the judgmental eyes of the other mother.
If you see yourself as mom A I beg you to stop. What you have done is written a law by which others must abide by to be in your favor. In this case, if you are on your phone instead of focusing on your children while under my watchful eye, you are in the wrong. Mom B is not living up to that law and you therefore feel free to judge her. Tell her all the good she is missing out on by not living up to your standards. You find yourself thankful that you are not like her, or maybe that you used to be like her but now you have risen above that. You've written a law for everyone that is right at a standard that you can meet. Self-righteousness.
If you are mom B you find yourself struggling under the weight of this law you have just been put under. You read the blog post and find yourself scrambling to explain why it is ok that you were on your phone. Maybe you are a work-at-home mom who has to answer emails, you are dealing with family crisis and are texting others to keep everyone informed, your friend desperately needed to talk so you came to the park so your kids could play while you had peace and quiet to focus. There are a myriad of reasons why you may be on your phone. Maybe you were just mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. But in the end it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter why you are on your phone because mom A (regardless of how good she may feel her intentions were) is not God and does not stand in the judgment seat. Mom A does not have the power to make laws to lord over you. The only God who has that power has already sacrificed himself so that you no longer carry the burden of being under His law! Rejoice!
The issue still remains though. Is it a good thing to be on your iPhone at the park (or restaurant, dinner table, wherever) instead of focusing on your children. The problem is, it's not about whether I'm on my phone or doting on my kids. The issue is where is my heart.
So rather than ask, should I be on my phone? I should ask, have I set up an idol of my own comfort for myself that must be appeased by me spending inappropriate quantities of time on my phone in a vain effort to fulfill my needs. If I am reliant on my phone to bring me comfort in an area where I should be relying on Jesus to bring me comfort, then rather than focusing on getting off my phone, I need to focus on finding my comfort in Jesus. Getting off my phone will solve nothing. I will simply seek a new area of life to sacrifice to my comfort idol.
Let's also ask while we are on it, should I be focusing solely on my children? Again, I have to ask myself the same questions. Am I looking to have the time I spend with my children fill a void in my (for love, companionship, joy) that I should be looking to Jesus to fill? Am I relying on my child's smile, hug, good behavior in public, or antics to make me feel as though I have value? If so, choosing to shift my focus from my phone to my children does nothing (other than maybe appease their desire for constant attention).
So to respond to the blogger's intention, yes, we probably are a too tech-focused society. But you know what? That's the not the problem. The problem is that we are broken. If we weren't filling voids with technology we would be filling them as generations past did with other things and would be in no better place.
It's not that we need to get off our iPhones, or focus more on our children, or any other list that anyone wants to try to guilt us into. It's that we need Jesus. And when we are filled up with Him we don't have to look to other things to fill us. We are free to love our children, to love our spouses, to love our neighbors and to love our cities without anyone's law of how to be good - how to be enough - hanging over our heads.