Monday, May 09, 2005

How to Have a Cellphone and still remain a Christian

Cellphones are ubiquitous now, spreading like Kudzu throughout the land. And unfortunately it plays right into and exacerbates the inherent narcissicism or self-centeredness of our culture. We have people having private phone conversations in planes, elevators, in class (!),during worship services, and in a host of other inappropriate places. They don't seem to care. Everyone loves to get mail, and everyone loves to be called, and that takes precedent over all else, including civility, and being considerate of others. In light of this blight on the land, I offer a few non-negotiable rules Christians should live by when it comes to cellphones lest they violate their Christian witness and certain minor commandments like "Each should look not to your own interests, but rather the interests of others. Have the same mind in yourself that was in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2.4-5).

I offer here the 10 commandments of cellphone use!

1) Under no circumstances except an actual and extreme emergency should you ever drive a car and talk on a handheld cellphone. This is incredibly dangerous and has already cost many people their lives. Just ask your insurance agent. There are reasons why whole states are banning this self-centered and dangerous activity.

2) Let private phone conversations be private. Don't have them in a public place. Place your phone on vibrate, and unless you are expecting an urgent call, do not answer it during: 1) another conversation with a live person; 2) another conversation with someone on a phone; 3) during a public event like a class or a worship service.

3) Turn off the cellphone unless you are in a place and at a time where it is appropriate to have a private chat. This means no cellphones on in concerts, movies, lectures, etc. You get the picture.

4) Stop wasting time and money on frivilous phone calls, sending useless pictures etc. This is bad stewardship of your money. I do not say there is never a time to use it in these ways (e.g. on a birthday to send a picture or a special message) but it should be a special occasion.

5) A cellphone, except when you are in an emergency stranded because your car died or the like is a luxury item, not a necessity. This being so, you should treat it like other luxury items. It should not become a way of life for you or your children. If you are using only a cellphone to do all your calling, then use it like a phone with a land line except in emergencies. Don't use it as an excuse to make unnecessary phone calls from anywhere anytime just because you can. That's pure narcissism and is hardly a Christian practice.

6) Don't buy a lot of useless or unnecessary extra features or package items in your cellphone plan. This is just a gimmick to get you to spend more money.

7) Stop checking your messages incessantly. This is obsessive compulsive behavior, and it prevents you from spending time with others, focusing on your current tasks etc.

8) In general don't use your cellphone to send messages. Take the time to write a proper note via email or snail mail, unless there is some good reason to send someone a brief note.

9) You are not so desperate that you need to watch TV on your cellphone. The picture is absurdly small, hurting your vision.

10) Too much use of your cellphone is actually a health risk because of the shortwave frequencies. Do without your cellphone except when you actually need to make a call.


Sven said...

I just ditched my cell phone after 4 years of woning one. I'm harder to get in touch with, bit it's one of the most liberating things I ever did.

Michael McMullen said...

Every cell phone user should read this.