by Rev Sng Chong Hui
There was a time when there was no iPhone.
The phone was a fixed item connected by a cord located in the home or office where we used it only to make phone calls.
It was truly peaceful and quiet when we are far away from the ringing of the phone. No worries about missed calls as there was an answering machine. No worries about the phone running out of battery either. No worries about accidentally dropping the handset, which was very hardy.
Today my iPhone has replaced my camera, my calendar, my mp3-player and my remote control.
Today the smartphone is more than a gadget. It is a stylish accessory that makes a statement about the personality of the owner.
Today we cannot imagine our world, our life and our work without a smartphone.
Today we fear nothing more than losing our mobile phone. There is even a term for that. It’s called “nomophobia” or the fear of being without your mobile phone or losing your signal.
Today the cell phone has become a crucial and indispensable part of our daily life. Everyone – from the young to the old – has a personal cell phone of their own.
Today we may need to ask – “Has my iPhone become my idol?”
An idol is anything whereby you ascribe supreme worth.
Worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “worth-ship.” You actually worship an object that you attach high worth and great value.
It’s just why a person can worship wealth, pleasure or success because those are the things he attributed with high worth and great value.
Anything that you value highly, attach unceasing devotion and bow in admiration at its altar is an idol.
That being the case, I think my iPhone may have indeed become my iDol 6 Plus.
These are my six plus reasons:
Such devotion …
“Don’t leave home without it” is now the slogan for our iPhone instead of American Express.
Many like me would take the trouble to turn back and make a long detour to retrieve our phone we left behind.
Others would rummage the garbage bins for their lost phones. And many more would stick their hands into soiled toilet bowls for their dropped device.
Such attachment …
Like many I sleep with my iPhone next to my bed.
A recent survey conducted online amongst 7,112 mobile phone users (in the United States, Britain, Brazil, China, Spain, Mexico and India) reveals that 60% sleep with their smartphones. Some even admitted they sleep holding the device in their hands.
About 57% of those survey said they took their smartphones into the toilet and used them while showering.
And in the event of a fire, 54% said they would rescue their hand phone before saving their house cat.
Such reliance …
We heavily rely on our iPhone for mobile Internet, Apps, built-in cameras and mp3-players.
It is little wonder 47% says their smartphone is something they “couldn’t live without.”
Such fixation …
It was found that an average person checks his or her smartphone at least 110 times each day for messages, alerts, or calls even when it isn’t ringing or vibrating.
There is now a rise in the phone zombies. You see them everywhere on our streets, shopping malls and MRT corridors, heads bowed as if in prayer making the occasional grunting noise.
They are so fixated on their cell phones that they are oblivious to the world around them. As a result accidents happen.
A 16-year-old girl In Colorado was so absorbed with her mobile device that she didn’t notice an on-coming train while walking along a railway track.
A Taiwanese tourist in Melbourne fell off a pier while checking Facebook updates on her mobile phone and almost drowned. She was plucked from the water still clutching tightly onto her phone.
Such addictive craving …
When we on family vacation abroad, the moment we checked in, the kids ask if there is free Wi-Fi available. They will take the trouble to go to the hotel lobby to get the password just so they could use their hand phones.
Couldn’t their mobile phones take a vacation for a few days?
Such dependence …
We have become so utterly dependent on mobile phone for information and productivity.
The mobile phone has become our all-knowing (God-like) device. You can get (or Google) anything you want to know from it.
It offers you everything — the latest news, latest outrages, new videos, new music, new pictures, and new updates from all your Facebook friends.
It is so alluring because it is so powerful (another God-like characteristic) and can do so many things.
It certainly increases our productivity because it invites us to multitask everything. That results in us thinking and working in multiple directions at the same time.
I wonder if we have already taken those words of Jesus in John 15:5 “Apart from Me you can do nothing” and imposed them on our iPhone.
Now I am not suggesting we throw away our iPhones. Rather I am asking us to reflect on the way the iPhone has affected our lives.
Has it changed the way you talk? You no longer desire to speak to people in a real place with real bodies and a real voice but in text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
Has it affected your feelings of people? When the person(s) did not pick up your call, do you imagine he or she is ignoring you or dislike you or even hate you?
In the past we would never entertain such feelings. We just simply dial and call again.
In the past you can remember many phone numbers but today, eh … what’s my office’s number??
In the past we talk with each other while we wait for the food to come in the restaurant. But nowadays whenever we have to wait, we whip out our smartphones.
You decide. I have given six plus indications.
In case you are wondering, I am not discarding my iPhone. But I am highly aware of the snare of it becoming an idol. And I am heeding the warning of the Bible.
“They served their idols, which became a snare to them” (Psalm 106:36).
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21)