Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at Macworld Expo 2007, and I got my first one a year later. I can't remember life without it. For seven years an iPhone has always been within my reach, there to wake me in the morning, there to play my music library, there to keep my calendar, there to capture my life in pics and video, there for me to enjoy sling-shooting wingless birds into enemy swine, there as my ever-present portal to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
My iPhone is such a part of my daily life, I rarely think self-reflectively about it. That's precisely what concerns David Wells, 75, a careful thinker who has watched trends in the church for many decades.
Wells asks Christians to consider the consequences of the smartphone. "What is it doing to our minds when we are living with this constant distraction?" he said recently in an interview. "We are, in fact, now living with a parallel universe, a virtual universe that can take all of the time we have. So what happens to us when we are in constant motion, when we are addicted to constant visual stimulation? What happens to us? That is the big question."
That's a huge question. What is life like now because of the smartphone? How has the iPhone changed us? These self-reflective questions may seem daunting, but we must ask them.
The Internet Age
Wells is quick to remind us we are only 20 years into this experiment called "The Internet Age" (or "The Information Age"). All of our digital communications technology is relatively new. One day we will stand back and look with more precision at what our smartphones are doing to our brains, our hearts, and our souls, but we don’t have the leisure to postpone self-reflection for the future. We need to ask ourselves questions now.