Tag Archive: cellphones

As many of you know i am a big Pearls before Swine fan and own all the books and am constantly inviting [slash harrassing] PBS creator Stephan Pastis to include the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin in his strip.

Usually just for laughs, but every now and then, Pastis nails something on the so-serious-it-punches-you-in-the-gut side of things and so when he tackles a pet peeve of mine, you know it’s going to be good:


As much as i believe we need to UNLEARN and RELEARN a lot of the information, communication forms and habits in life, i have a strong feeling that living a good life is going to consist of a lot more of UNTECHNOLOGISING which is a huge challenge for parents [let’s be honest, a tv or tablet is an easy babysitting option for a few minutes slash hours] but also for the rest of us.

So much so that my wife and i came up with this challenge, which we have done twice, and have chosen to make a regular happening with meals at our home [be prepared!] and i would love to hear of more people giving it a try and reporting back on results.

It has inspired poetry from me like this one i wrote a few years ago called Celling Your Soul aka Sign on the dotted line

And from a Christ-followers perspective a piece on worship and cellphone use.

There is so much more to be said. i am a huge appreciator of technology and the internet and how it can connect us and give us space to engage with each other and rally support and share information, but there does need to be good usage of it and finding ways and spaces to creatively put down the gadget and switch off the machine are going to be life-to-the-full saving in the long run.

What are your thoughts when it comes to cellphone usage and community?

pearls phone 1

[For some less serious Pearls cartoon strips, click here]

phones inbox

On friday nite we had some mates around for a meal and some in depth conversation.

The picture above is not a group selfie but rather a close-up of the phone basket that was my wife’s idea.

We emailed everyone beforehand to let them know, and as they arrived at the party we held out the basket and they muted their phones and dropped them in and got them again as they left at the end of the evening.

This didn’t work quite as well for J. who arrived 45 minutes late and with no doorbell and no means of contacting anyone inside [we couldn’t remember if he had RSVP’d yes or not] had to eventually leave and miss out on the fun [although maybe, for Capetonians especially, that is its own lesson on punctuality or sending texts when knowing you will not make it on time].

And it was incredible. We did it again on Easter Sunday with the family. Phones in a box and for a crowd who tend to gravitate to our screens when we get together, it was a revelationary process.

What was perhaps most interesting on both occasions was how much everyone embraced the idea absolutely when we told them about it. Almost as if we had given a group of people permission for something they had already secretly been wanting to do.

i share this completely as an idea for you and yours. i have heard of a similar version when you go to a restaurant with mates and the phones all go in the middle and the first person who reaches for their phone, if there is a call or message or something, foots the entire bill. That would seem like a way to get us cured of our ‘connectedness’ quickly.


This is the thing that gets me. On most occasions [and there are exceptions] when you have chosen to spend time with me [one on one at coffee, hanging with a group of friends at a braai, dinner occasion with the family] and then you choose to allow our time to be interrupted by someone you have not chosen to spend time with at that moment, it just feels completely rude. In fact, what you are saying is i am even going to give a wrong number [someone i don’t even know] the opportunity to take my attention away from you. It really is just so much of rudeness.

Also the idea that you will turn your phone off for a movie or a church service or dentist appointment, but not for a time spent with me? Insulting.

We need to learn how to be present and engaged with those who we have chosen to spend the time with.

The phone box is going to be a regular staple at the group dinner events tbV and i are planning to hold, and our family also decided that we should do that every time we get together for a meal, not just that one occasion.

So just try it out. And let me know how it goes.



I’m not sure how many people feel as strongly as i do about cellphones sometimes, although i sense ‘Pearls before Swine’ creator, Stephan Pastis, might have some idea.

pearlsphone1People driving while texting or speaking on their phones lately has really caused me an out of proportional rage reaction [or maybe not. maybe exactly the right amount of proportion. but it does tend to be the only time i swear loudly and aggressively, to myself, when i am alone in my car at least] especially cos i am still working on never doing the texting myself.

In movies as well. Man, if you open up your phone and it radiates laser beam light to the heavens while i am watching a film in the cinema, then i don’t have a lot of grace for you. And i had better not be holding something small, inconsequential to me and throwable.

i do enjoy the ability cellphones give us to contact someone in an emergency or to help us with directions or to send a quick message of ‘I’m going to be a little bit lateness’, but i think i would not be too distraught if they were somehow outlawed and we had to go back to only having phones in our homes. Yes, i’m going to be one of those generation of cranky old folks who mutter, ‘When i grew up we didn’t even have cellphones while walking three miles in the snow barefoot to pick up our milk.’ Or something.

However, i also really like the concept of taking something bad [like raiSINs] and finding a way to use it for good [throwing a bag of them in the trash. okay bad example]



i think i have found one way.

One of the biggest failings in many areas of the church has been the lack of older people intentionally mentoring younger people.

This is something that also happens unknowingly in a lot of friendships. Not necessarily doing a bad thing. But missing out on the good thing one might have been able to do.

A few years ago, there was a friend of mine who was struggling with the temptation to cut herself. She shared this with me, that she had not actually done it yet, but that there were various times when the temptation became strong.

We came up with this simple but effective plan. Any time she felt the temptation, she would send me a text message and i would commit to praying for her. What i did on top of that was try to text her back immediately after every time she texted me. So whenever she was tempted she would send me a text. I would pray for her but i would also send her a message of encouragement, a helpful Bible verse, a simple message of ‘I’ve got your back. You have this.’

So simple really. I think that went on for something like 18 months to two years, and as far as i know, she never actually cut herself. Often simply the act of reaching for her phone and sending a message to someone she knew cared for her, was enough.


Around the same time, i had another friend who was really struggling with watching porn and so we worked out the same deal. Any time he was tempted, he would send me a text and i would try and reply immediately. Same vibe. And i feel like that might have been during the time when i was struggling with it as well and so it was a mutual thing. At any time either of us were tempted, we could text the other person and know that someone was praying for us and going to love us enough to send us back a text of encouragement, scripture or strength-enducing friendship vibes. That was largely successful as well.

And today I have a similar deal going on with one of my mates. He has been struggling with drinking and asked me to help keep him accountable to the commitment he has made for the following month. So i try and Whatsapp him in the morning and the evening and every night before he goes to bed he sends me a thumbs up to let me know he made it through another day. He actually just texted me now to say that he would have caved [given in] without our simple arrangement.


As it would say in the book of Proverbs, were that book written in these times, ‘As rice to a waterlogged cellphone, is a friendly accountability text to a friend in need.’

Is there someone in your life who could use this service?

Or is there maybe an issue that you are struggling with at the moment, that setting up some kind of accountatextability could be the most helpful thing for? Who is someone you trust who you think would love to be invited into this kind of deal with you?

All you need to do is ask.

Send that text!

Unless You Cell Everything.

So this morning i was at a pastor’s breakfast and we were having a time of worship singing and some dude left the meeting to go and answer his cellphone and it brought back one of my favourite grinds to axe. I don’t know why i seemingly feel so proportionately huge on this issue where most other people in my experience don’t but for me it is one of the most offensive and rudest things…

On the me level it’s the whole vibe of you going out to have coffee with me at a restaurant and your phone rings and you answer it. Basically what you are saying to me (via your actions) is that even though you have set aside this time for a coffee time with me, actually ANYONE else in the world with a phone in their hands is more important than me. It could even be a wrong number. So in essence you are choosing a complete stranger who you don’t want to talk to, over me.

As i said, i find it incredibly rude and am surprised that most other people don’t seem to find it as offensive as i do. For example if you were in a movie for an hour and a half you would (hopefully) switch your phone off or on silent and leave it like that til the end. So the movie has your full attention. If you have a doctor’s or dentist appointment or a business meeting you won’t interrupt it to have a chat to me so why can’t you afford me the same courtesy. I want you to know that for the next hour i am choosing above anyone else in the world to spend time with and give my full attention to. We’ve lost that because we have openly welcomed the invasion and invasiveness of the mobile phone into our lives.

Then back to the breakfast, we also have a guy in our church who regularly leaves the worship time and maybe also the preach time to go take a business call. And then this guy leaving a worship session to go take a call. What is more important than communing with the Holy and Awesome Creator God and King Jesus for the twenty or so minutes we are going to sing some songs.

If you were in a one to one meeting with Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama or someone else you see as famous and respectable or the king of a country, you wouldn’t suddenly go ‘oh sorry i have a call, i’ll be back in a minute’ and so possibly it’s a question of not really understanding or knowing or believing that when we are engaged in a worship session it really is meant to be a face to face time of hanging with God. And surely He deserves complete focus and attention in that moment.

The cellphone has become an idol for many of us who worship it or its use or images or sounds that emanate from it and we need to really be more aware.

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