June 9, 2016 was the first day Sarita and I did not own a smart phone. We had ditched the iPhones the day before for two basic $9.99 flip phones. When I went to purchase them, the guy behind the counter couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to purchase a basic smart phone for essentially the same price. Finally I had to tell him, “I want a phone that can only call and text.” Over the next 24 hours I discovered a new phenomenon of our digital age: phantom phone.

The first thing we noticed was how much longer it took us to text using these basic phones. It was agonizing. But the slowness has been good for us. The second thing I noticed was the feeling of being liberated. It was as if an infected limb had been removed. Over the years, my iPhone had slowly hijacked my right hand and became an extra appendage. I always had it with me and I was frequently (Sarita would say constantly) checking it. Email. ESPN. Clash of Clans. News. Facebook. Twitter. Weather. Repeat. I was tethered to it like a psychological leash.

To cut ties with the phone was like being freed of a web that had caught it’s fly. I had purchased it, but it was possessing me. The true reality of my sad state did not come into full view until the hours after I had rid myself of it. I experienced something that can be called “phantom phone.” I reached into my pocket looking for a phone that I forgot was no longer there. I sleepily and clumsily clawed for it on my nightstand upon waking in the morning and was immediately reminded of the severity of my condition.

The iPhone had semi-consciously, if not unconsciously, become a part of my body. When a part of your body that is in pain is amputated, your brain will still register the pain of the limb even though the leg or arm is no longer there. This is called “phantom pain.”

Now, when a part of your body causes you to sin, Jesus says to cut that part off. And that’s what I did. And despite the odd experience of “phantom phone” in the hours that followed, the feeling of simplicity and freedom was wonderful.

We still have the phone, but no longer use it. Sarita wants to smash it to pieces with a hammer. It was a part of me that she always wanted to break into a million pieces, never to be reassembled, and now she can.

It’s easy to defend the usefulness of a diseased limb when you ignore the worst symptoms of that limb’s disease. But once you finally face up to the reality of its effects, the amputation of that limb becomes an act of liberation.

So what do you think? Is “phantom phone” a thing? Have you experienced it?

Originally published at WADE MULLEN.

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