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Conventional Thinking: Texting while living

Earlier this month, Texas became the 47th state in the U.S. to ban texting while driving. This texting practice is universally recognized as a dangerous, hazardous one that no one should do because of the effect it has on a person’s ability to drive safely.

Did you know that the average mobile phone user spends five hours per day on their device, a large portion of which is spent sending and receiving text messages? The ubiquitous and non-stop nature of texting also has given opportunity to other dangers besides texting while driving, including the rise of “sexting” (sending messages that are sexual in nature), cyber-bullying and more.

These practices, like texting while driving, are easy to spot as a problem and sin. What can be more subtle, though, is the everyday effect that texting in general has on a person’s life. Here’s a few:

// Distractions

We all have seen it. Many of us have done it. A married couple are seated for dinner, purportedly to share a meal, but both have their cell phones pulled out. In between bites, the couple, instead of staring into one another’s eyes and having real conversation, are faces in their phones, enmeshed in a digital world wooing them away from being present where they are.

// Bad manners

There once were unwritten rules about what time of day you might call a person on the phone. It went something like this. Don’t phone someone before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless it’s an emergency. With the supposedly non-invasive practice of texting, people now send text messages at all hours of the day.

We need to step back and think of texts like barging into someone’s life and whatever they are doing at that moment.

Before you text, stop and think, what might they be doing at that moment. Are they asleep? Are they in a church service? Think twice before you text, and text unto others as you would have them text unto you.

// Bursting wineskins

Have you ever received really big news via text message? These days, breaking news happens all the time, by digital devices. Yet sadly, news can travel so fast that sometimes weighty news—good and bad—can spread before key people know.

I have heard of people finding out that their own grown child, who is now married and an adult, was having a baby. I have also heard of people receiving a text about the death of a dearly loved friend. If the news is weighty, try to resist the impersonal text message, knowing that the wineskins of our human nature are fragile.

// Time waste

What did we do with those five hours per day, before mobile phones? Perhaps it was spent in front of another glowing rectangle, like a computer or television. But more than likely, some of that time was spent in real-life conversation, or reading a book, taking a walk or praying.

When you text and use your phone, it typically is in concert with other people. In other words, when you are wasting time it leads to others wasting time as well.

As Christians, we do not hate technology. We want to harness it for good, even while we grieve over the weaknesses technology exposes in our own human nature. Meanwhile, we can work to “redeem the days, because they are evil” (Eph. 5:16).

Because when our lives are through, we do not want to have to look back, with regret, on what ceaseless texting-while-living did to us and to others.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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