I don’t bother taking the time to review every book I read or audiobook I listen to, but I felt it necessary this time with 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke.
This audiobook was very well read by the narrator, and there were a lot of very thought-provoking points throughout the book, including but not limited to:
- Our smartphones amplify our addiction to distractions
- Our smartphones help us evade real in-person human interaction, and result in us neglecting to treat others with empathy online
- Our smartphones feed our cravings for immediate approval
- Our smartphones make us falsely believe we’ll miss out on something
- Our smartphones tempt us to indulge in visual vices
- Our smartphones tempt us towards unhealthy isolation and loneliness.
However, there was also a lot of very unnecessary sanctimony on the author’s part. This was exemplified in an early chapter when the author tried to suggest social media and the connectedness of the internet coupled with people’s selfish desires are the reason for the growing “done movement” (Christians who no longer attend a weekly meeting).
The author seems to posit the idea that because internet technology allows us to be more “selfish” and individualized, avoiding real-life interaction with others, that this has fueled the rise of believers who have “abandoned or forsaken the gathering together with other believers.” As does nearly every career pastor or church leader, the author erroneously assumes meeting together and looking at the back of someone’s head one hour a week is what constitutes gathering together with other believers, and puts the blame on those who tire of such attractional meetings.
Sometimes I had no idea what the author’s point was or how he reached some of his conclusions. For example, as already mentioned with the “done with church” comment above, the Reinke often jumps between trying to present fact to trying to scripturally back up the fact. Many insights of his are matters of opinion and his own interpretation of Scripture.
Should we be self-disciplined and exerting of self-control in all areas of technology, such as but not limited to our smartphones? Absolutely! Of course. However, I just felt like often times the author begs the question — that’s to say assumes the premise he’s trying to prove has already been established as hard fact when he doesn’t do nearly the job he may believe he has in his writing.
Other than those kinds of things, of which it seemed like each chapter had at least once, this is a very important book for believers to read or listen to, IMO.
Perhaps the author should have chosen a different title than “phone” because overall, this book was more about how the internet, in general, is changing us and not just smartphones since much of his opinions about the internet and social media overall.
Listen, a smartphone is definitely a tool that can be used to glorify God & help us grow spiritually. You’re reading a post by a guy who writes online content that can be read from smartphones, tablets and laptops thanks to the internet connecting us all around the world. I create audiobooks and produce a podcast, both of which that can be listened to and accessed on smartphones. So I’m not saying we need to get rid of this technology, nor does the author posit that.
The problem is, as the author rightly sees it, we are not disciplined enough to use it for those kinds of reasons alone.
This is book is worth a read (or listen).
Just chew the meat and spit out the cud as you digest it.