Connection Through Disconnection

In my ongoing effort to suck all the fun out of find greater satisfaction and connection from lived Mormonism (Step 1 was axing all pointless debates about immovable rocks), I began an experiment 4 weeks ago designed to force myself into higher levels of sociability and participation during Sunday meetings.

I left my iPhone home.

Like many of you, I revel in the technology of today. We live in an age when there are gadgets and gizmos with direct and indirect application for virtually every walk of life, including religion. Between smartphones, netbooks and other portable computing devices, cheap memory, cameras, and an ever-increasing world of social media websites and services, it has become possible for the faithful Latter-day Saint to maintain a seemingly endless library of gospel-related information: scriptures, manuals, magazines, journals, eBooks, and, not unimportantly, other people.

The practicality and prevalence of social and mobile media is not lost on the Church, either–as evidenced by the development of mobile applications for handheld devices, mobile content libraries, and YouTube channels, and more social media functionality on every website.

Game developers have also capitalized on the growing LDS market for things like this. Yes, folks–it’s true: Someone created a game where you toggle Samuel the Lamanite back and forth and make him wave his hands as if he’s preaching, while tomatoes, axes, and arrows fall from the sky, and a convert-counter ticks upward for every soul you save.[1]

In the middle of this vast sea of technology and connectivity, the well-equipped Latter-day Saint has everything at his or her fingertips. The well-equipped Latter-day Saint can also spend 3 hours every Sunday with his or her head in a monitor, reading blogs, Church news, and manuals without ever hearing a word or speaking to another soul. If that happens, connectivity begets disconnectivity.

So, as I mentioned at the outset, I conducted an experiment: I disconnected. I left my iPhone either home or in the glove box of my car. I took nothing with me into the meeting except my scriptures and the manual I needed to teach my lessons. And it was awesome.

The first Sunday I did this, at times I found myself constantly reaching for my phone in my suitcoat pocket–almost reflexively, even when I didn’t have any reason to look at it. However, there were also times during the block program when I sincerely wanted–and almost needed–my iPhone: I needed my calendar for some scheduling purposes. I desperately wanted to use a quote from a conference talk during a lesson. I wanted to store a new ward member’s contact information. I also wanted to cite something from a recent post at BCC during a lesson I had to teach.

Despite those few moments of frustration, I noticed something far more important by the time I got home and, after three and half hours, checked my email: I had engaged in more conversations with ward members and participated at a higher level in my meetings than I had in eons.

The second, third, and fourth weeks were easier, because I was better prepared. I brought a small notepad along for anything I would need to remember to input into my phone later, and I, you know, prepared my lessons more thoroughly ahead of time so that I wouldn’t be wishing I had access to LDS.org or KevinBarney.Rad just before class was starting. The social and participatory aspects of my meetings remained at a much higher level, and I felt increasingly connected to my family, my ward, and frankly, to the Lord during all of my meetings.

I stand by what I said earlier–the technological innovations which surround us can greatly enrich our gospel experience. However, the past month has demonstrated to me that there are times and places where I personally benefit from being disconnected. I plan on staying that way, at least until someone develops an iPhone app based on Ammon where I can chop the arms off of invading Lamanites.

Anyone care to take the experiment? It’s Friday afternoon, so you have a day or two to psych yourself up or do calisthenics. I challenge you to try it, and come back and report your experience on Monday.

—————————
[1] Why would stuff be falling from the sky on his head? Wasn’t Sam on a wall?

Comments

  1. Throwing down the gauntlet!

    I found myself constantly reaching for my phone in my suitcoat pocket–almost reflexively, even when I didn’t have any reason to look at it.

    This happens to me in the Temple.

  2. You guys are nerds.

  3. I took my iphone out in Relief Society a couple of months ago to check on an article the teacher was quoting, and then spent the entire lesson “researching” that topic. I apologized to the teacher later, and have kept my iphone tucked away during church ever since. Lesson learned.

  4. I had a smart phone for about three weeks, and it was too much for me. Read: The entire three-week period was as you describe the Sunday block. I was gorging digitally and starving relationship-wise and spiritually. None for me anymore, thanks.

  5. Steve Evans says:

    I prefer a path that leaves accessibility to online resources on the go, without sacrificing real-world relationships. For some people, going cold turkey is a necessity.

  6. Translation of Steve’s comment:
    “I am a wuss and can’t do it.”

  7. Reagan Republican says:

    Will the day ever come when we have online services?

  8. You used your smart phone at church?!? BURN THE HERETIC!

  9. Cynthia L. says:

    Hah. We had such a huge (HUGE) problem with kids in primary being preoccupied with games on their iPhones, that as a presidency we decided to institute an intervention and ban them all. This made me realize that I reach for my blackberry way too often at church, and to set a good example, I needed to go cold turkey at church too. Two Sundays now and it’s been wonderful.

  10. I do use my iphone in church. Mainly to look up scriptures or follow the manual. But I think it may be annoying to some people.

  11. It is.

    I am trying to figure out how to share this with half of my ward without offending them.

  12. I use my iPhone at church so I don’t have to haul my scriptures and Young Women manual around. But I set boundaries for myself; I only use the scriptures app, and I don’t use it at all during sacrament meeting. I’ve never felt disconnected as a result.

  13. I use my HTC Hero (too cool for an iPhone or an iPod Touch) to read scriptures, look up articles, and follow along with lessons in church. As someone who is hard-of-hearing, I find that the Reveal app that the church developed for the Android Market has made my Sunday experience much more engaging and fulfilling. I am able to follow along better and, as a result, I am able to make more meaningful contributions to the lessons.

    I also use my Twitter client to post snippets of talks and lessons that I want to remember. I won’t be able to do this this week during Stake Conference, though, because we have Elder Bednar visiting and, due to the previously-mentioned hearing loss, my wife and I will be sitting, quite literally, front and center. So I’ll have to jot down notes the old-school way and post them later.

    I haven’t seen Tomchik around here lately, but he uses his netbook for the same reason I use my Hero during EQ, which I find quite awesome.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m old skool, in that I don’t even have a smart phone, so this isn’t a problem for me. On the other hand, I have to schlep my massive large print quad around at Church, which makes me think having scriptures on a smart phone might be a useful thing.

  15. Alex,
    I guess what I’m saying is that what you describe is precisely what I’m trying to get away from.

    We don’t exist in our wards in a vacuum–your ability to follow along and read from your device and update your Twitter feed continually is wonderful, but it’s only one side of the equation, and in my (current) opinion, it’s the lesser side of the equation. As 9, 10, and 11 suggest, other people are affected by your use of the devices; no matter how engaged you are in the lesson manual or scriptures or Twitter, burying our heads in devices during Church sends a busy signal to anyone who might have otherwise wanted to extend a hand of fellowship to us. I know this–I’ve experienced it myself many times, on both the sender and receiver part of the equation. I don’t care how emphatically you might (or might not) insist otherwise: you cannot talk to someone or make comments or listen to other peoples’ comments if you’re typing with your fingers.

    As badly as I want to believe it, I just cannot convince myself that Sunday worship services are principally about gospel instruction–as a Church, we suck too badly at it for that to be the takeaway each Sunday. I believe that, aside from partaking of the Sacrament, we should be engaged in the business of mourning, comforting, carrying, rejoicing, and renewing bonds with our fellow saints in the Body of Christ.

    If we get excellent gospel instruction, then that is a major bonus–but it should not be what defines the success or failure of our meetings week in and week out.

  16. …dodging tomatoes???

  17. I have an iPad. Totally different.

  18. I’m really struggling with this one. I seem to alternate back and forth between paper scriptures and my iPhone app.

    For starters, I do feel that I have to take my smart phone into church because it is my calendar and to-do list… basically it’s my planner and in the process of “connecting” with people I kinda need to be able to schedule things (and, by necessity, see what is already scheduled).

    While I feel more comfortable with paper scriptures AND feel a tinge of rudeness when I pull out my phone in church, I really like that I have the ability to add endless notations and highlighting. And, I love that my notations and highlighting are synchronized with the web based version of my scriptures.

    Yeah – I know – I’m a nerd.

  19. #16 – Maybe they were Veggies Tales characters trying to help Sammie Boy – not rotten things thrown by unbelievers.

    Scott, due to my job, I carry my cell phone with me and look at it whenever it buzzes. I sometimes step out of meetings to answer it, and I sometimes respond to texts during meetings – but never Sacrament Meeting. (The most ironic instance was in a leadership meeting where one person was decrying the use of cell phones by our young men to ask young women to dance via text messages from within the same cultural hall – and their subsequent complaints about connectivity during the dances. I received a text I answered in the middle of that discussion. Just a bit awkward.)

    Having said that, I try to keep it to just the times I feel it is necessary – since I do believe it is a distraction to others. I also understand completely that I am missing something while I am engaged with my phone – and that it might be something that is critical for me and that the Lord might have inspired someone to say at least partly for my benefit. Thus, the attempts to limit my “distraction” and disconnection to only those times when I feel it is necessary to respond.

  20. Ray,
    I think that’s about right. In challenging people to leave the phone home this weekend, I am not suggesting that people necessarily do so every week forever; rather, I suggest it purely as an experiment–just to see if the change is noticeable. I expect it will be for some, just as it was for me. I also expect it will not be very meaningful for many others.

    3 hours.

  21. What will probably sway me in the end is the need to set an example and minimize any distraction I’m causing others. I stand by the utility I get out of it and don’t even find it wrong in principle to text. During ward council, for example, I’ve been able to get questions asked and answered quietly before the meeting’s through. During the block I’ve alerted the WML about the arrival of looked-for investigators and home teahers to the arrival of less-actives.

    Like so many things, you take the good with the bad.

  22. Thomas Parkin says:

    My best technology moment at church. I was sitting on the stand next to the Stake President, who was going to speak after me. I had the Darth Vader Imperial March set as my ringtone. This is true. Just as the youth speaker was saying something about the influence of the Devil, I got a call. Dum Dum Dum Dum-de-Dum Dum-de-Dum. Could hear it all through the Chapel. I struggled to get the phone out of my coat pocket and dropped it on the floor.

    I’m still pretty much a luddite. I was the last American to get a cell phone. May not have got one except owning the restaurant pretty much made it essential. When we were in the middle of the sale, one of the people involved called me 17 times in one afternoon. That’s not for me. I’d throw it in the river if I could. Though I do admit that I text back and forth with one friend quite a lot, and that constant touching base has been really nice.

    otoh … it’s hard to imagine life without the internet. I used Jstor and Zotero on a paper I wrote for school this last week. I can’t imagine the work involved in research without those things. I don’t really have to go to the libary – I don’t even have to get out of my chair to find a dictionary … still, all y’alls gadgets seem like a lot of overkill, to me …

  23. Dang, I just barely jumped on the bandwagon and now it turns out all the cool kids are leaving their iPhones at home. Oh well, like a colleague of mine always says, “you poor little rich guy.”

  24. I have no problem with technology in church apart from one thing: reading scriptures on your phone. Nothing beats paper and leather. But beware of poncy new scriptures too. They need to be slightly tatty.

  25. I wholly agree with the post, yet, in the terms you described Steve, I am too much of “a wuss” to follow your lead. I usually give a speaker or teacher five minutes to prove to me that the talk/lesson is worth hearing, and then about half the time I turn to reading. I used to use my droid to read whatever book I was in the middle of, which replaced me bringing an actual book to Church meetings. (As a grad student, as I’m sure many here are familiar with, there is always another book you have to read.) However, I have at least taken a (albeit small) step by limiting my Church meeting to gospel-centered texts; I usually download a Eugene England essay or something.

    It is much easier to get away with it in my current ward, which is much more high-tech (likely because it is a solely University town). The bishop always does his lessons and announcements from his iphone, the first counselor always uses his ipad, and there are numerous other phone devices or kindles. Surprisingly, even with the large number of digital usage, it is one of the friendliest and outgoing wards I know, and fellowshipping is always a standard every sunday.

    Surely there has to be a point where, instead of just completely avoiding the temptation (which is probably the right decision for a large amount of people), we can train ourselves to be able to merely use it for what its intended while not taking away from other important factors. I still have a ways to go with this, however.

    But maybe I should take the challenge and find out.

  26. Ben,
    I’ll be in Cambridge in February. We should meet.

  27. RJH: Agreed. Although you better wear the right shade of blue.

  28. “…burying our heads in devices during Church sends a busy signal to anyone who might have otherwise wanted to extend a hand of fellowship to us.”

    “You cannot talk to someone or make comments or listen to other peoples’ comments if you’re typing with your fingers.”

    I agree with both of these statements, actually. I never have my phone out when I am having a conversation. I put it away when there is a discussion that is moving around the room. I only use my phone to read passages that I otherwise will not fully understand if I rely upon my somewhat-deficient hearing only.

    I only type quick snippets, and that, to me, is the same thing as writing it on paper.

    For me, it is a fine line between using technology appropriately in a way that will both enhance the Gospel experience and allow us to interact with each other more fully and being so deep into our devices that we are tuning out the world.

    I also recognise that I am one of those blasted exceptions. It is like when I hear someone complain about texting someone in the same room. When my wife and I are at her parents’ house for Sunday dinner, and there are a dozen other people present, making a lot of noise, we are able to communicate via text much more easily than we can by trying to yell into one another’s ears. We are both hard-of-hearing, so we overcome the difficulty of oral communication by switching to text messages.

    All that being said, I like the challenge, and I will undertake it this weekend during General Conference and then return and report.

  29. I don’t own an iphone…my cell phone doesn’t take over my life…but there is a definite obstacle to my being engaged at church…my children.

    Is there an off switch, volume control…I think they already have the vibrate mode, but they don’t seem to vibrate only…there is generally noise as well. Aside from the safety, nurturing and general responsibility ;) huh… I’m having a hard to getting aside from that.

    I’ve been interested i nthe conversation and the esepcial trend of those with some hearing loss…what an incredible blessing technology has been in that regard.

  30. holy typos batman….

    another naktastic post

  31. Week 5 experiment: We will take sledgehammers and break down their industrialized looms!!!

    Given the fact that I’m naturally distant and removed from church meetings anyway, this hasn’t presented itself to me as a problem. But good luck in your ventures.

    Also, I pretty much limit my phone use to scripture/gospel principle use, just as I would the normal books. I only resort to surfing when the lesson gets so bad that I normally would have gotten up to “go to the bathroom” pre-smartphone.

  32. Pesky phones. When my husband, a physician, was a member of the bishopric, he had to leave the stand during Sacrament Meeting nearly every Sunday to take calls from one of his hospitals. He hates being tethered to his iphone. One Sunday he jumped up, as usual, when the phone vibrated, but it wasn’t a phone call. It was a text message, sent from our son in the front row of the chapel, telling him to wake up. :)

  33. I guess I don’t really see a difference between following a lesson in a print version of the scriptures and following along on a smart phone. I don’t see the technology as inherently more disruptive. You can be just as disconnected by reading a hard copy of your lesson manual for your upcoming class or reading another book or as britt k pointed out, corralling your children (I admit that I’ve done all of the above in the past.)

  34. I have one young man in my youth SS class that has his scriptures on his phone. They won’t let him use it in Priesthood but I don’t have a problem with it. He actually has a reading disabiltiy and if the electronics help him to be more willing to read, then I am all for it.

  35. Back Row,
    If we were talking about a device which had one and only one function–a scripture application–then I could see how your comment relates to what I wrote. But we’re not talking about anything of the sort, so I’m not sure how your comment relates to what I wrote.

    In other words, if all you’re saying is that a person can daydream or space out regardless of what they bring to church or how they read their scriptures…well, of course.

  36. Look, folks–this all comes back (ultimately) to the same thing I wrote at some point in my last post: the bloggernacle is full of people who have indicated that they feel disconnected from their own wards, that they can’t relate to their ward members, that they don’t have any close friends in their wards, that they’re bored, and on and on and on.

    If you, the reader, happen to not be one of those particular individuals, then bully for you. Carry on!

    However, if you are one of those people–and I sort of am one them myself–then you might consider experimenting with a change in your own behavior, rather than hoping for a change in the behavior of everyone else around you or the institutional church. What I suggest in the OP is just that–a suggestion. It will yield large dividends for some, and zero dividends for others–I have no doubt of that.

    It’s not a universal prescription–it’s just an experiment.

  37. Given the fact that I’m naturally distant and removed from church meetings anyway, this hasn’t presented itself to me as a problem. But good luck in your ventures.

    Well, there’s no accounting for misanthropy, I suppose! :)

  38. Ben Park (25),

    I wholly agree with the post, yet, in the terms you described Steve, I am too much of “a wuss” to follow your lead.

    One important distinction–which I should have made clear earlier–is that Steve is a wuss in pretty much everything.

  39. My disconnect is not with my ward and the extent to which I am it iis because I like it that way. I have issues.

  40. prometheus says:

    I agree, Back Row. The medium is irrelevant to the message in this case.

    Also, carrying paper scriptures and lesson manuals is simply beyond my current physical abilities right now – I just can’t do it. An iPod touch in the pocket is very doable, however.

  41. prometheus,

    You seem to have missed #35.

    The problem is not my e-scriptures, it is that I Facebook, email, comment at BCC, work on my dissertation, and follow the Redskins on ESPN. I guess I could do all these things without my iPad…but a major reason that I got the deviice was to enable me to do these things from more places, including church.

    If any of you are getting NFL updates through your leather and paper scriptures, please fiill me in.

  42. Chris…for that you need a good hat

  43. hehe…I was waiting for that.

  44. Sorry, I don’t want to change the topic of conversation, but I was wondering if anyone knows whether a high priest can be ordained and elder and if this has ever happened. If not why? Thanks!

  45. I read Back Row’s and prometheus’s as responding more to comments 10, 11, and 15, which imply that some view even reading scriptures or taking notes on a phone as annoying. I don’t yet understand Scott B.’s point in 15 and 35. Phones can be used to check football scores, therefore reading scriptures on one sends a signal of disinterest?

    This post’s larger point is, of course, uncontroversial. Experiment to find better ways of being involved and engaged at church services. If a phone is a big part of the current experience, begin there.

  46. Yes Brian-A, that’s what I meant. There’s nothing about bringing your iPhone to church that means you have to be following football games on it during meetings.

    I completely agree with the overall point that being involved during meetings is a good thing. I’ve just never personally found my iPhone to get in the way of that involvement when I limit the way I use it at church, and I find a lot of benefits from using it in a way that helps me be more connected to those around me.

  47. I have noticed…I am not sure why. If I sit in the rocking chair with a book..my children climb right up…if I’m with the computer (the lap top lives on a table next to the rocking chair)…they are less likely to climb up. Being a psychology nerd-I did my own study. My children apparently see me as more accessible when I’m reading a book, than when I’m reading the same exact material on a computer.

    Is there something to that more generally? Is an Iphone user less approachable than the same person reading the same thing in book form?

  48. 45-46,
    We might just disagree about what signals it sends when we stare at a mobile device. To me, it’s extremely obvious that staring at such a device sends a signal of boredom and disinterest, regardless of whether the person doing the staring is bored or disinterested. It’s also obvious why this is a different signal than that which is sent when you have your scriptures open in front of you: It is not clear to anyone else _what_ I am looking at when my phone is out. I might be looking at the scriptures. I might be looking at Facebook. I might be looking at pictures of my kids. The point is, no one knows. If you’re staring at your scriptures, it’s fairly obvious that you’re, you know, reading your scriptures.

    britt k in #47 nails it–we send signals with our behavior, whether we intend to or not. I teach in both Sunday school and EQ, and I never, ever direct questions to someone who is staring at a mobile device, because I do not want to risk embarrassing them if they happen to not be reading the scriptures, but instead happen to be reading the news.

  49. Also to 45-46, it would be wonderful indeed if everyone could limit themselves to just using the scriptures–and that was the point of my #35. The problem is, in my own experience with my own iPhone, as well as in my obvservation of what my fellow ward members are doing, the fraction of the time that mobile devices in church are used for reading scriptures is minuscule relative to the fraction spent playing games, surfing the web, text messaging, and other activities.

    I’ve just never personally found my iPhone to get in the way of that involvement when I limit the way I use it at church…

    Unless people are fundamentally different in your ward than they are in my ward, then I would wager that it has directly affected the willingness of others to engage you, though, and that’s my point.

    …and I find a lot of benefits from using it in a way that helps me be more connected to those around me.

    This just confuses me. I have had a smartphone for a couple of years, and have never once, during that whole time, found that it helped me stay in connect with those around me, nor do I think that any producer of such devices would ever consider that to be a likely or expected or even desired outcome. Rather, they help me stay in contact with people who are not around me.

  50. And again to 45-46–
    My objections to your statements in 45-46 should not be construed as me implying that either of you are disconnected in any meaningful way from your ward members, or that you should do as I do. I just don’t think that what I’m saying–that we send signals of boredom or disinterest when we stare at screens in class or the hallway–is really up for debate.

  51. Also, Brian-A in 45 said this:

    This post’s larger point is, of course, uncontroversial. Experiment to find better ways of being involved and engaged at church services. If a phone is a big part of the current experience, begin there.

    Gold star. That is the point.

  52. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    Great topic, Scott. All has been expressed above. And guilty as charged: I’m at the family dinner table eating soup right now as I type this. My only plea is that I have found one legit use for packing full deviceage heat at Church: Sacrament meeting is under way. No bread at the sacrament table yet. I get a text from the teacher’s mom who is racing it to the building. Bishopric is nervious, looking around for me, and 1st C makes nervous eye contact with me. I point to my phone. I then text the bishop and first counselor that bread is 5 minutes away–about the time that sacrament prayer will be said. Smiles and relaxation when they read it, in a non-obvious way. We sing extra hymn, and bread walks in. I didn’t have to get out of the pew and walk a piece of paper up and hand it to them mid meeting. Completely undisruptive to the ordinance and meeting. Had I not brought my device to Church, . . .

  53. Eric S.,
    Sure. I tried to make it fairly clear in my OP that I see clear and obvious benefits for using these kind of devices in a church setting–the first few paragraphs were devoted solely to that end.

    I am absolutely not trying to make the argument that these devices are worthless or should be entirely tossed out permanently for all people in all places. Rather, I’m trying to highlight the simple (and in my view, obvious) point that using these devices requires that we also incur certain costs and potential risks.

  54. Perhaps I am the only one around here who would feel this way, but aside from signaling disinterest, it just seems icky to bring your fancy toys to Church. I realize that many of you probably run in circles in which smart phones and other istuff is normal, and therefore not show-offy. But lots and lots of people in my ward run in circles where they have a hard time making rent and buying diapers. Personally, it would make me awfully uncomfortable to sit next to such a sister and play with a device that costs more than her monthly food budget. Just me?

  55. I guess we could argue whether we should have such toys when others suffer in poverty. We could also argue why we poor millions into temples while others starve. Or why the parking lot of my church is full of fancy trucks and SUVs.

    I cannot afford my phone or iPad…they are officially owned by my employer.

    Either way, I try to use mine in the comfort of the foyer couch to avoid making anyone uncomfortable in class.

  56. “It is not clear to anyone else _what_ I am looking at when my phone is out. I might be looking at the scriptures. I might be looking at Facebook. I might be looking at pictures of my kids. The point is, no one knows.”

    Scott, while I understand your point, I find that context once again drives everything. As I mentioned, I have one guy in my ward who keeps his netbook open so he can pull up scriptures and talks during classes. Almost 50% of the members in any given class have a smartphone or smart device that they use in class. All of them are participating in the lessons and are clearly involved in church-based activities, not just surfing the web. As I result, I tend to assume anyone with a PED out is using it for church reasons.

    All of that being said, I totally agree with the basic premise have established: if you feel a disconnect with the members of your ward, and moving to Champaign to be in my ward is not a viable option, it is worth seeing what you can change about yourself, rather than hoping everyone else will change. This has applications far beyond the use of a smartphone during church.

  57. I am very happy not to need or have to pay for a mobile phone of any kind, and I hope to keep it that way. People using them in church to look up scriptures doesn’t bother me very much, but in that context at least, they do seem more like a toy than a tool.

  58. Returning and reporting: it went well for me, though I ended up being distracted by my toddler most of the time…

  59. Mike from Atlanta says:

    Our Stake President wanted to be in touch with the youth. So he gave his number out over the pulpit during his talk at ward conference and told the youth they could chat with him any time they wanted, day or night. Within a few seconds several of the youth in the audience responded with comments about his talk, mostly positive. Completely disrupted his sermon. It was hilarious.

  60. I tried. I made it thirty minutes into an inane EQ lesson and caved. Just. Can’t. Do. It.

  61. mine has been an attendance-saver. I have lately been choosing bringing the phone and tuning out (with what I feel are appropriate topics eg BCC) when things get awful, over not attending at all.

    I am sad to read such judgmental comments here. I thought we were better than that.

  62. 49, Here’s an example – I follow along with the lesson in Gospel Doctrine class on my iPhone and I’m prepared to comment and ask questions in ways I might not otherwise be able to. When someone in class mentions a talk from general conference, I can look it up. Like I said before, I don’t surf the web, text, etc during church meetings. You might be right that people aren’t as likely to approach me, but I don’t know who would be approaching me during sacrament meeting or a lesson anyway. I comment at least once or twice during every lesson and the teacher seems to have no problem calling on me or the other dozen people in class who are using their smartphones.

    Being distracted by a smartphone during class is not a technology problem, it’s a user problem.

  63. Being distracted by a smartphone during class is not a technology problem, it’s a user problem.

    Yeah–I’ve tried to make it abundantly clear that I’m not condemning technology. I’m talking about excessive dependence on it.

  64. 61,

    I am sad to read such judgmental comments here. I thought we were better than that.

    Would you explain what you mean here (e.g., examples of people being judgmental)?

  65. I, too, am returning and reporting. We had our Stake Conference this weekend and, in a quite unique experience for us here in east central Illinois, our conference was presided over by Elder Bednar, with Elder Ward of the Seventy accompanying him. I was sitting, quite literally, front and center during our general session, and I kept my phone away the whole time. No problem.

    During the Saturday evening session for adults, I was sorely tempted to take out my phone to look up the legal term “in loco parentis” because Elder Ward used it as the focus of his comments, but I survived not doing so. I did find myself talking to the brother in front of me and the brother beside me, though. So, I guess it did work.

    However, I’ll probably resume using it during lessons on Sunday for the aforementioned reasons I have cited.

  66. mine has been an attendance-saver. I have lately been choosing bringing the phone and tuning out (with what I feel are appropriate topics eg BCC) when things get awful, over not attending at all.

    What’s next–leaving your headphones on during choir practice? I think if I loathed (aspects of) church to the extent that I needed to tune out to survive it, I would think seriously about spending my time doing something I felt better about.

  67. It really annoys me when I see people in front of me or next to me on their smart phones. A couple months ago, two newlywed couples were sitting next to each other and oggling Facebook on an iPad during Sacrament Meeting. They were being so disruptive and loud- pointing, whispering, giggling, passing back and forth, etc. I wanted to smack the back of their heads! Its pretty bad when the adults in the ward are more disruptive than the children.

    And people, seriously? Your scriptures are NOT THAT HEAVY. I don’t care how old they are. Geesh…bulk up a bit. Its not like we’re carrying the golden plates around.

    I wish everyone would just leave their cell phones at home. 99% of us don’t *need* to be contacted during church. Unplug!!!

  68. Psh… Amateurs.

    I was ignoring teachers and fidgeting around with things during sacrament meeting YEARS before anyone had mobile internet access. Give me a pen and the ward bulletin and I’ve got three hours of distraction easy.

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