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The New Ball and Chain

You used to hear husbands refer to their wives (usually jokingly) as "the ol' ball and chain." I guess that's now considered misogynistic, as I haven't heard it for a few years. At any rate, the idea is that the ball and chain keeps you from having fun, from living life like you want. It makes you a prisoner just as much as the ironworks do. I submit to you today we, as a culture, have a new ball and chain, one we voluntarily carry with us wherever we go, one which holds us captive for hours every day: our cell phones.

They began as objects of utility. Being out and about meant not always having reliable communication in the event of an emergency. Pay phones weren't everywhere you could be, after all, and the person you needed most at that moment might not have been home when you called. Thus the cell phone was born. Over time, of course, it developed into the smart phone, a device offering an array of other utilities like e-mail and Internet access. Now, however, we have become their slave; they use us more than we use them. Constant connectivity and silly games have proven to be as addictive as the hardest of drugs. We cannot go one hour without checking our phone -- the latest study said a mere seven minutes on average, in fact.

Surely this cannot be a good thing. How are we to read our Bibles, how are we to pray, how are we to worship if we can't focus on God for over seven minutes at a time? How can we love our neighbors if we never look up to see them or speak with them in person, our attentions bound by a silicon ball and chain? Digitized interaction is no substitute for the real thing, and we cannot love our neighbor by merely likely their posts on Facebook.

Break the chain. Kill the battery. Unplug. Be free of this new ball and chain.

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