Super Sad True Love Story, published in 2010, was set in the near future … also known as now. Author Gary Shteyngart wrote about Americans who were tied to their devices, rarely looking up and rarely putting them down. It was appalling at the time.
What was science fiction in 2010 is reality today. Research shows that Americans spend an average screen time of 5.4 hours on their mobile phones daily. About half of that is time spent on social media. We have 294.15 million smartphone users in the United States. The U.S. population is 329.5 million. That means almost everyone who isn’t a little kid has a cell phone.
Like every piece of technology, smart phones can be used for good.
Ten ways to use your phone as a force for good
- What apps would Jesus have? You can read the Bible, do a meditation, read a devotional and pray a piece of liturgy on your phone. Some recommendations about apps to download are in the resource section here.
- Be intentional about what you post on social media. Think it through and decide what you want to accomplish. You can only post things that cause people to smile (or laugh). You can spread thoughts of peace and kindness. You can be intentional about who follows you.
- Make rules for yourself about cell phone use. Such as, put the phone on recharge during meals to keep it off the table during a meal. Or, never read email until you’ve done morning prayer.
- Designate time to read emails and calm yourself first. Pray before you open your email. Ask for wisdom, discernment and calm. Scheduling time to read them keeps you from constantly scanning your phone for emails. If people need to contact you from work, you can let people know that you read your emails at these specific times. If anything is too urgent to wait until that time, they can text or call you.
- Express your appreciation to someone. Write a post giving someone (a friend, colleague or a person you admire but don’t know personally) a compliment. This is especially nice if you are sending it to a person who means a lot to you, but doesn’t have hundreds or thousands of followers.
- Write a recommendation about a colleague or vendor on LinkedIn. Taking the time to give positive reviews is very welcome.
- If Starbucks has a personnel shortage, don’t offer to pay for the person behind you. Counterintuitive, I know. But paying for the person behind you makes the cashier’s job more difficult. In a time of personnel shortages, that can be tough. Find another ways to pay it forward.
- Promote a small business. If you’ve had a good experience with a small business, say so in a nice review. You can also share their posts on your social media.
- Like a newsletter or blog, If you’ve been reading someone’s blog for a while and like what they doing, let them know. You also could pick a favorite, never-miss podcast to sponsor on Patreon.
- Compliment a parent on their kids. Be specific.
Having the intention of using your phone and your social media in kindness and caring can turn a big time-sucking problem into a blessing for others.