Blog › Smartphones and Technology – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Smartphones and Technology – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

relationships

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

In the February 11, 2017 edition of The Economist, a fascinating article explores the dark side of smartphones. Several comments in the article stood out to me including the following.

“Sherry Turkle of MIT, who has been studying the effects of technology on users’ psyches for decades, believes that smartphones have made it harder for people to form connections with each other, or even to be at ease on their own. Some participants in one study, which required them to sit alone without a smartphone for 15 minutes, chose to give themselves a painful electric shock to escape the boredom.”

It is the height of irony that the smartphone, one of the principal purposes of which is to enable connection, is “[making] it harder for people to form connections”! Notwithstanding, texting seems to facilitate positive connections within my family. That said, Mary and I sometimes have difficulty connecting with our grandchildren when they are staring (sometimes seemingly zoned out) at their smart devices. Having been known to fixate on the little screen myself, I need to tread carefully here!

From years of doing business and life, I have concluded that one of the most important determinants of success is not intellectual capacity as measured by IQ, but rather, relational capacity. By that, I mean the ability to form healthy relationships that withstand the inevitable challenges of life. While texting family or quick emails in business can strengthen relationships, these activities cannot substitute for face time with others (unless, I suppose, it’s FaceTime on the iPhone!).

One of the most important determinants of success is the ability to form healthy relationships.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I like numbers. However, they never meant much to me until I met the people behind the numbers. My relationships with clients, built in person and on trust, breathed life and understanding into cold, clinical numbers.

During my business career, I sometimes heard marketplace leaders refer to the need for additional “bodies” in their company to meet business objectives. However, we are much more than bodies and the treatment of others as mere objects performing functions is abhorrent to God.

According to the Bible, people are not simply a means to an end. In fact, they have intrinsic worth irrespective of their position or performance. This ultimate truth is sometimes lost in the flurry of interactions via our smart devices.

Our intrinsic worth is underscored by the fact that Jesus gave his life for every person ever born or to be born. His motive – unconditional love, the desire for relationship with us and the healing of our relationships with others. In this regard, Jesus responded as follows to a lawyer’s question concerning God’s greatest commandment.

“Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39, The Message)

For me, faith in the One who exhorts me to love unconditionally and to temper my reliance on technology is highly relevant to both my professional life and my personal life!

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.