“…it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it any more. It has been growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I am always wanting to put it on and disappear, don’t you know; or wondering if it is safe, and pulling it out to make sure. I tried locking it up, but I found I couldn’t rest without it in my pocket. I don’t know why. And I don’t seem able to make up my mind.” -Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring
One phone to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.
I am in the process of evaluating and trying to gain more control over my smartphone, rather than it gaining control over me. God only knows how many hours I have frivolously spent fiddling with this piece of metal and silicon in my fingers. It’s my precious all the while stealing away my precious time in this world. Now, while the smartphone is not as sinister as Sauron’s One Ring, I believe there are many parallels between its hold on us and its affects.
It Calls To Us
Our smartphones have our attention all the time throughout the day. We find we always check them even when there is nothing audibly pinging for us; it’s a silent call to our affections to be entertained, to escape, to disappear from those around us. If we use the smartphone often enough we begin to “fade” from real life around us with all of its troubles, responsibilities, and blood-relatives needing our attention. We were not made to multitask in the way we try to do. Our minds are becoming “thin and stretched” to the point we can’t focus very long on any task. Gandalf, when revealing the true origin and nature of the ring to Frodo, says that was a “sign the ring was getting control.”
When our smartphones are not with us or when they are dead, we are “restless and uneasy“, fearing we are missing something. I have started to freak out because I didn’t feel that familiar shape in my pocket, all the while I was holding it in my hand. Our smartphones have control over us, and it’s time for a quest.
Destroying our smartphones, or rather getting rid of them won’t solve the problem. Unlike the One Ring, our phones do have many benefits for connection and daily tasks, but we need to use wisdom when it comes to wielding its power.
Mount Doom is not our destination here, but meeting with the Council in Rivendell should be in order. Farewell.
Recommended Reading: 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke