My iPhone has become my electronic leash. God forbid I leave it home one morning: I must rush back after morning minyan to retrieve it. When someone sends me a text message, his or her expectation is an immediate response. I acquire the following information on a daily basis from it:
text messages in which the sender expects an immediate response
necessary updates from the App Store
things to send to the iCloud
mincha/maariv at a Shiva minyan in case there are not enough siddurim
locations and directions
a photograph someone had to send me
checking a Hebrew date on my Deluxe Pocket Luach
current news from The New York Times, Jerusalem Post and Post-Gazette Slide
someone’s telephone number
hourly updates while at the AIPAC policy conference
the cheapest gas stations in the area
sticky note reminders
the nearest free Wi-Fi site
How does one balance the good with the bad so that it does not become a black hole from which there is no escape? Medical experts regularly advise us to eat and drink in moderation. Is there a way to use the iPhone in moderation?
Steve Jobs brilliance and creativity will be sorely missed, but even he could not control the iPhone juggernaut. The users themselves determine its path. Is there a way for individuals to control that, or at least feel that there is some control? I do believe the answer is yes. Permit me to share a simple solution.
Unplug on Shabbat. Three simple words. When you come home Friday after the day’s work, plug your iPhone into the charger and leave it there until Saturday after Shabbat. The ringer is still on, so in case of an emergency call, you can be reached, although ultimately, if they really need to reach you, they will find you (refer to UJA joke #1.) Just step away from the iPhone. Sit down and connect with your family instead. Enjoy a beautiful Friday evening dinner with person-to-person conversation in lieu of interfacing with faceless others. Find out what was important, unique, and special in the lives of your loved ones this week. Light Shabbat candles and bask in their glow, giving thanks to God for all that is good in your life. Drink a L’Chayim over kosher wine or grape juice. Bite into the best of breads: a nice, fluffy challah, which is so magnificent after Passover.
Judaism offers solutions to even the most current of challenges, if only we would avail ourselves of what it has to offer. Go ahead, try it this week. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover what you have been missing – the Shabbat, that 25-hour island of time that offers respite from the world. The world will still be there, and the Internet will not have collapsed. If you do unplug, please let me know how it felt. I can tell you from personal experience that it feels really good. Now, about coming to shul Shabbat morning…