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6 Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning

Reason 2: Ego Candy

What have people said about us since the last time we checked? Who has taken note of us? Who has retweeted us? Who mentioned us or liked us or followed us? In our fallen, sinful condition, there is an inordinate enjoyment of the human ego being attended to. Some of us are weak enough, wounded enough, fragile enough, insecure enough, that any little mention of us feels good. It is like somebody kissed us.

Reason 3: Entertainment Candy

On the Internet, there is an endless stream of fascinating, weird, strange, wonderful, shocking, spell-binding and cute pictures, quotes, videos, stories and links. Many of us now are almost addicted to the need of something striking and bizarre and extraordinary and amazing.

So at least those three candy motives are at work in us as we wake up in the morning and have these cravings that we seek to satisfy with our phones.

Then there are three avoidance motives. In other words, these aren’t positive desires for something; these are facing things in life that we simply want to avoid for another five minutes.

Reason 4: Boredom Avoidance

We wake up in the morning and the day in front of us looks boring. There is nothing exciting coming in our day and little incentive to get out of bed. And of course, the human soul hates a vacuum. If there is nothing significant and positive and hopeful in front of us to fill the hope-shaped place in our souls, then we are going to use our phones to avoid stepping into that boredom.

Reason 5: Responsibility Avoidance

We each have a role: father, mother, boss, employee, whatever. There are burdens that are coming at us in the day that are weighty. The buck stops with us. Decisions have to be made about our children, the house, the car, the finances and dozens of other things. Life is full of weighty responsibilities, we feel inadequate for them and we are lying there in bed feeling fearful—maybe even resentful—that people put so much pressure on us. We are not attracted to this day, and we prefer to avoid it for another five or 10 minutes. And there is the phone to help us postpone the day.

Reason 6: Hardship Avoidance

You may be in a season of life where what you meet when you get out of bed is not just boredom and not just responsibility, but mega relational conflict, or issues of disease or disability in the home, friends who are against you, or pain in your own body in your joints and you can barely get out of bed because it hurts so bad in the morning, and it is just easier to lie there a little longer. And the phone adds to the escape.

Thinking in the Other Direction

So those are my six guesses for why so many of us are drawn almost addictively to consult with our phones when we wake up in the morning—candy motives and avoidance motives.

But think about this. Suppose you open your phone immediately in the morning. What if you are the first one to horrible news? Or what if in your search for ego-candy, you find ego-acid, and people have hated you overnight? And what if you spend five minutes getting yourself happily entertained in the morning, rather than facing the responsibilities of the day immediately, and you find at the end of those five minutes that they have drug you down into a silly, demeaning, small-minded, hollow, immature frame of mind?

Was it worth it?

And what if you take five minutes to avoid the boredom and responsibility and hardship of the day only to find at the end of those five minutes of avoidance, you are spiritually, morally and emotionally less able to cope with the reality of the day?

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Tony Reinke serves as the editorial and research assistant to C.J. Mahaney. He wrote a book called Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (Crossway). It will be published in September 2011. In the book he addresses four main topics: (1) why Christians prioritize book reading in the first place, (2) how to personally select the best books to read, (3) tips and tricks on how to go about reading them, and (4) how to overcome common challenges to book reading.