Author: Michael Eddy

The Most Devastating App


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 I recently updated my iPhone operating software and apparently as part of that update Apple has included a new app called “Screen Time.”  It’s a brilliantly devastating app because it reveals exactly how much time I spend each day on every app on my phone. It also tells me how many times a day I pick my phone up to look at it and how many times I receive a notification.  I say it’s a devastating app because I don’t want to be controlled by this little device I carry around, but I was stunned the first time I looked at the weekly activity report.  I really had no idea really how invasive the phone had become.  I receive almost 200 push notifications a day.  Think about that for a second; my phone is trying to interrupt me every 4 to 5 minutes every single hour 24 hours a day!  How is it even remotely possible to focus on a task or just be present with this constant appeal for my attention.

 

I am embarrassed to even share how much time I was spending each day on my phone.   I decided to do an experiment and delete one of the apps on my phone I felt was taking up too much of my attention relative to it’s importance. I started with my twitter app. I reasoned that I would remove the app for a month and see if what I missed (the news information and little bumps of dopamine social media gives us) by not having it exceeded what I gained in focus and time by removing it as a distraction.  I figured I could always reinstall it.  It’s been about three weeks since I made that change and I don’t think the twitter app is going back on for me.  In fact, I am now considering a few more apps to wipe from my home screen.

 

Yesterday my family went for a hike up a trail called Yonah Mountain about an hour or so from our house. It was a perfect day for a hike – sunny yet cool with the vibrant colors of Fall-time foliage serving as the backdrop.  About halfway up the mountain we passed three high school girls who had stopped and were sitting together on top of a large boulder.  They weren’t talking or taking in the scenery around them.  They were all lost to the world.  You could probably guess what they were doing . . . staring at their phones.

 

“Technology break?,” I asked them as we walked past.   Two of them didn’t even hear me.  The third looked up and said, “Oh we are live-streaming from Instagram – for our fans.”

 

This problem is well documented and their are plenty of memes like the ones below about how addicted we all our to our phones.  What’s interesting is how I seem to notice when others, like the teenagers who have stopped to live-stream during a hike, seem to be missing life because of their phones but then justify it when I do the same thing – like when I check out by opening up my ESPN app at the end of the night instead of going to bed on time. Or when I get distracted by an email in the middle of a conversation with my wife.  I thought I was the one in control of my phone, but then I got the data from Screen Time. It was a pretty devastating realization that maybe I wasn’t as in control as I thought.

 

 
Anybody else have plans to stare at their phones somewhere exciting this weekend?

One Star Reviews


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I recently published my first book and after a couple weeks of solid reviews I received my first 1 Star review on Amazon.  Gasp . . .  My immediate response was to get defensive. In my mind I started forming my counter-arguments to this hideous blemish on my book review record.   Clearly this reviewer had missed the point and this injustice needed to be rectified. Did the reviewer really need to attack me personally.  I briefly wondered if I should appeal Amazon to have the review removed and the reviewer permanently banned from the site.
After a few moments of reflection on why this made me angry, another revelation came to me; I shouldn’t fear the one star review.  It didn’t have to irk me at all.  In fact, I might take encouragement from the 1 star review because it just as well might be a sign of something positive about the work.   If we stand for something or write something or say something and everyone agrees with us – what does that say about the things we stand for, write about and say?  It probably means we have contributed something safe, politically correct and uninspiring.
I am not bragging that my particular book is bold, honest or inspiring.  What I am saying is that a 1 star review is not a signal that it isn’t any of those things either.  In fact, a one star review (or multiple one star reviews) may be a much better sign than only positive reviews that a person has taken a stance and shared something risky.  You don’t make a difference by sharing something everyone already knows and agrees with.   You don’t do work you can be really proud of by making sure it doesn’t offend anyone or is so uncontroversial that nobody even notices it.
The next time you get a 1 star review, or the equivalent in your domain of work, don’t take it too harshly.  Smile to yourself knowing this might be the best sign that you are headed in the right direction.

Call to Adventure


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The following is a short excerpt from The Truest Story Ever Told. It comes from the Chapter labeled Call to Adventure in reference to that phase of the Hero’s Journey.

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined the term “synchronicity” to describe coincidental events that on the surface have no explainable connection but seem to relate to some deeper reality. The following are some examples. You go to a bookstore and for no reason pick up a book, flip randomly to a page and see an answer to a question that you had been asking yourself when you walked into the store. You experience financial difficulty, but somehow money for basic living expenses shows up at just the right time and the bills get paid. You think about calling a particular person to ask for advice on something important, and in the midst of your thought, the person calls you. Almost all of us have had similar experiences. They are ones when we say, “What a coincidence!”

Jung believed coincidental “acausal” events, like the ones just described, couldn’t be explained by statistics. The probabilities didn’t add up. Jung concluded that many of the experiences perceived as coincidences reflected a deeper governing dynamic at work in the world, which he labeled “the collective unconscious.” “Synchronicity” was his term for explaining that the world and our personality manifest clues that direct our attention and actions. Most of the time, we dismiss these events as mere coincidence (a statistical anomaly), but according to Jung, this can’t always result from chance. Jung thought we should give credence to connected coincidental events because they might be clues that the universe and our own subconscious were working together to get our attention and to move us in a new direction.

In an interview shortly before his death, Joseph Campbell spoke about a similar concept by summarizing an essay by famed philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, called the “Apparent Intention of Fate of an Individual.” Campbell, speaking in the interview, said:

(Schopenhauer) points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. . . . The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. Schopenhauer concluded that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature. 1

What Schopenhauer labeled “fate,” what Jung labeled “synchronicity” and what Campbell labeled “consciousness,” I label “God’s activity in his creation,” which he initiates through the work of his Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: “The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Rom 8:26 NIV) Even when we don’t know what we want or what is best for us, when we don’t even know what we should be praying for, “The Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”(Rom 8:27 NIV)

Even skeptics like Schopenhauer and Jung noticed that sometimes there seems to be an intention for what is happening in our lives. Events that seem random and unconnected may, in fact, be important and formative turning points. The Call to Adventure is constantly revealing itself, begging us to cooperate with the “single dreamer.” Some calls are hard to miss; others emerge through a trail of coincidental events and chance meetings. Some come as a manifestation of a deep desire, and some come out of disappointment. But the Hero has a choice—to heed the call to Adventure or not. God is always moving in the world, and his eyes “range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chron 16:9 NIV) Everyone gets the call but not everyone answers.