Posted by: Mike Willoughby | October 26, 2010

Confessions of an iPhone addict

I love my iPhone.  I love the connectedness this sleek package delivers as it keeps me current on email, Facebook, Intersection blog comments, appointments, text messages, calls and voice mail.  I love the ease-of-use that is so intuitive you don’t need a user’s manual.  I love the fact that I can ask it for directions without compromising my masculinity (hey, no one knows I asked it for directions).  I love the fact that it holds five versions of the Bible and I love the fact that it can hold ten times more music than I’ll ever care to listen to.  Did I say I love my iPhone? 

Perhaps there is a fine line between love and obsession, because after last week I have been forced to consider that my affection for this wonderful device might be a touch out of control.  First, several weeks ago I swore off texting/emailing while driving.  This was after coming to the conclusion that my instructions to my two driving-age sons to abstain from texting while driving lacked a certain moral authority since I was routinely violating my own rule.  Now my phone sits in the console on my commute while it beeps and chimes away with unanswered text messages and emails.  Like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs, I have been conditioned to respond to the auditory cue as I feel compelled to grab the phone and read the incoming message.  I resist the urge but it is not easy.  Paranoia kicks in as I imagine the vital information I am missing by not peeking at the message.  The world could be coming to an end and I will miss the opportunity to step in and stop the chaos because of my vow to stop texting while driving!  Sounds like the anguish of a smart phone addict!

Unlike one of Pavlov’s pooches, I have the capacity to grapple with my conditioning and resist my addiction.  I realize my beloved iPhone provides many benefits but my lack of self-control could turn a blessing into a curse.  Risking my life or risking my ability to be a positive example for my kids is not worth the trade-off of being instantly in-tune with the electronic oracle in my pocket.  Here’s a scripture that reminds of the value of moderation and self-control when living as an example to others:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.    I Corinthians 9:24-27

I know I am not alone either.  Last week, I was a chaperone dad for Jackson’s outdoor education trip to Sky Ranch.  In addition to having an opportunity to shepherd a bunch of precious Legacy Christian Academy sixth graders through four days of Christ-centered outdoor education, I also had an opportunity to spend some time in spiritual reflection and retreat at the outstanding Sky Ranch facility.  In order to make the most of my four days camping, I committed to be very judicious in the use of my iPhone to check in with the outside world.  Once again, I found the allure of the constantly pinging iPhone very difficult to resist.  I also noticed that many of the other chaperone parents including most of the other dads were regularly consulting their own smart phones during breaks in the schedule.  The temptation for every dad to be distracted by their devices was enhanced by the two Rangers ALCS games played while we were in retreat.  I managed to keep my iPhone interactions to a minimum while at camp although the last two days, I simply left the device charging in my car during the day in order to eliminate the Pavlovian phenomenon going on between my pocket, my ear and my brain.  In light of my commitment to use this camp experience for spiritual retreat and reflection, I was reminded of David’s inspired challenge from Psalm 46:10 to simply “Be still and know that I am God.”  It’s tough to be still when I allow myself to be constantly distracted by the pinging demands of the device in my pocket.  I foresee more time on the charger for my iPhone during future times of meditation, retreat and dates with my wife until I get a better handle on my addiction!

It is said that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Hello, my name is Mike and I’m an iPhone addict!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles
Having an Eeyore Day? Work-Life Balance? (Part 2) Work-Life Balance? (Part 1)


  1. Mike,

    I love it. I think we can all relate. I have recently removed my email from my smartphone and find that I consult it much less now and use it mostly for talking on the phone. Of course the iPad has replaced my reliance on the smart component of my phone.
    Have a great week!

  2. You think the iPhone is addictive-wait til you get your hands on an iPad!

    • Hey, Doug! I actually have an iPad too and I love it! Fortunately, it doesn’t fit in my pocket and constantly remind me of it’s presence. I do have to watch myself in meetings so I’m not dinking around with it rather than giving the speaker my attention. That kind of meeting rudeness that seems so common today is a whole other topic that I may have to comment on sometime in Intersections!

      Doug, thanks for being a loyal reader and a great source of personal encouragement for me!

  3. Great article Mike. Applicable to any “enslaving” thing in our lives. Thanks for the refreshing perspective and guidance!

  4. I do not have an iphone i just use my phone to say hello and goodbye so this is not one of my addictions but if you start on chocolate or cupcakes that is another story love your emails

  5. Mike, I just finished reading your article after returning home from a week in Seattle. I had a personal encounter today with how addicted I’ve become to my IPhone. I left it in my daughter-in-law’s car when she took me to the Seattle airport for my flight back to Dallas! I didn’t realize my IPhone was missing until I was going through security, and I knew immediately what I had done. I didn’t know my daughter-in-law’s cell number, so I couldn’t contact her to see if she could bring it back to me. I actually had ‘let go’ of my IPhone! Plus, I had to use a pay phone to try and contact the two cell numbers I remembered and get them to communicate for me and run my life today. What a wake-up call this was for me! Some things are going to change in regards to my IPhone dependance as a result of today’s experience, and your article was point-on!

    By the way, my IPhone is scheduled to be delivered by FedEx no later than 10:40 AM. 🙂

    • Wow, Linda! That is extreme cold-turkey therapy. Thank goodness FedEx is coming to the rescue.

      They are marvelous devices but we sure can become dependent on their presence in our lives. I also wonder if they don’t reinforce the unrealistic notion that we are at the center of the universe with their real-time personalized delivery of vast amounts of information right to our fingertips? Perhaps a topic for another Intersections article… Thanks for your real-world object lesson!


  6. Great article Mike. It is encouraging to see a man like you living with the success and balance I am striving for. It is difficult, and the enemy confronts me at every turn, but your testimony and life give me a real-world example of what’s possible when you follow God’s plan for your life. That is my main goal, the other things are secondary. I do not have the iPhone issue myself but my regular phone and work Blackberry provide all the “conectedness” I can deal with. Kudos to you on keepinig the main thing the main thing while on your retreat. Integrity is so important for fathers to show their sons – they can sniff out hippocracy a mile away. And with three son’s myself, this is always top of mind. Thanks for your testimony and ministry here.

    • Thanks, Ryan! As a fellow “three son club” member, I appreciate how purposeful you are being in raising up your boys. I have been thinking of doing a series on boy raising and your comments motivate me to move that series to the front burner!

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