Cyber Sabbath – Part One

Do you suffer from homophobia? Do you even know what it is. I didn’t until recently. I have been reading and studying about the changes technology has brought into our culture and way of life. That may be somewhat obvious by the number of references to technology in my recent blogs from early July until now.

According to Psychology Today, homophobia is “the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact.” Among today’s high school and college students, it’s on the rise. An increasing number of college students now shower with their cell phones. One study showed that the average adolescent would rather lose a pinky-finger than their cell phone.

Even if this information makes you laugh or roll your eyes, make no mistake: homophobia is real. Studies have shown that about 66 percent of adults feel extreme anxiety if they lose connection  with their mobile device. You know, that feeling you have when your battery drops to 8 percent? Or that sick knot you feel in your stomach when you reach in your purse or pocket, and your phone’s not where it usually is? More than half of the people who use a mobile device begin to feel upset when it is not with them.

On a recent flight from Detroit to Los Angeles I boarded and sat in the back row of a large plane. As I arranged myself for the lengthy flight — book out, highlighters and pen available, phone charging… I realized I did not have my iPhone. After a frantic look through pockets and briefcase I realized I had left it in the airport bathroom. The plane is almost full and near ready to depart. Panic. So, I understand that ‘separation anxiety’ you feel when you have lost or misplaced your cell phone. I was feeling seriously upset and panic-stricken.

Sound extreme? Well, guess what? If the age group is limited to eighteen to twenty-four, the percentage jumps to 77 percent. Think about that number for just a moment. It means three in four young adults suffer anxiety when they’re not connected through their technology. 

The first time I read these numbers, honestly, I found them pretty difficult to believe. But with further research I realized how real and pertinent these statistics are. According to one study, 58 percent of people say that won’t go one waking hour without checking their phone; 59 percent check their email as soon as it comes in; and 89 percent check their email every single day they’re on vacation. Another study says that 87 percent of teenagers sleep with their phones. I’m sorry, but if you’re sleeping with your phone you need help. You need counselling. You need Jesus. And someone needs to take your phone away from you for eight hours while you sleep.

Eighty-four percent of people said they couldn’t go one day without their phones. That’s the power of homophobia in action. It’s incredibly real. And it’s increasingly common. 

Let me ask you you a few questions, and I want you to answer as honestly as you can. You should never lie to anyone, but remember, I’m a pastor, so it’s even worse if you lie to me. (I’d hate for lightening to strike you where you’re sitting and leave just the charred remains of your phone case.)

Is checking your phone the last thing you do every day?

What about when you wake up? Is checking your phone one of the first things you do every morning?

Do you feel compelled to check your phone while waiting in line at the fast food drive through, in the checkout lane at the store, or while waiting in the airport? More than once?

Would you rather give a mugger your purse or wallet than your phone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe it’s time to power down and take a cyber Sabbath. Maybe it’s time to remember what life is like without your phone, tablet, or laptop. Maybe it’s time for your soul to rest.

More next time…