I predicted it fairly accurately, give or take a few weeks. I think I saw it coming only because it’s happened before: Silly bands, Pokemon, and neon shoe laces have all done the same thing. They’ve ended up either lost and forgotten or in a shoebox under the bed. Common sense and a little bit of experience told me it would probably turn out this way, and sure enough, it happened:

Fidget spinners are officially a thing of the past.

I’d seen the fellas at school playing with them, and I immediately figured it was just a matter of time before my kids just had to have one…or two….or three. I think the average number of fidget spinners in our home right now per person is about 2.75. But then again, I’m not sure because they’ve all kind of gone missing…forgotten…in a shoebox under the bed. I’ll admit, they are a fun little toy. It’s mesmerizing to watch it spin and listen to the “whirrrr”, especially if you’re lucky enough to have one with lights in it. It’s addicting…isn’t it?

What is it about fidget spinners that makes us so hooked, so fast? We want to play with them constantly, night and day, in the car, in class, at the store, laying in bed. And it’s not enough to have just one. We need one for each hand. Then we need different colors, lights, shapes, and blades. And it’s not just kids either. Fidget spinners are popular with adults, and I’d bet you could even find a “Fidget Spinning League” if you wanted to make that your thing. America’s Got Talent anyone?

Now, before you assume that I’m going to find some problem with fidget spinners, think again. I’ve got no beef with them. In fact, as a school principal, I secretly hoped each day that I’d have to “confiscate” a few fidget spinners from the boys just so I could spin a little in my office. I do however find it interesting that many schools across the country felt the need to ban them. It just goes to show that where there’s fun, there will end up being a rule about it, because sure enough, someone is going to abuse it. Hear about that girl that got a spinner hopelessly tangled in her hair? What about junior high boys using spinners as throwing stars (Hey, if you can imagine it, junior high boys have probably done it). And then there’s the distraction factor. I mean, C’mon, how’s a guy to take notes in math class while balancing two (or more) spinners on his thumbs, on his forehead, and on his friend’s nose (do we really have to wonder now how one got tangled in a girl’s hair?). Fidget spinners and school were probably never a good mix, but other than that, they’re an inexpensive, enjoyable–and yet forgettable–diversion from the reality around us. You’ll see an occasional kid playing with one, but by and large, they’re a done deal. Called it.

Fidget spinners are technology, and any technology will tend to addict us to itself, at least for a time.

Now, by the term “technology”, I am referring to anything new that improves, or in this case, enriches our lives. Good people would have different opinions on what things “enrich” life, but nonetheless, new things tend to make our lives richer and more enjoyable. So the danger is this: When we get addicted, we have reached a point in which we can’t imagine going without the object of our addiction. We are hooked. We gotta have it. We need it, we want it, we crave it, and we’re jealous of others who have it. Does this describe anything in your life? Think bigger than fidget spinners. Think about your day and how much time you’ve committed to any one device, toy, hobby, book, app, person, feeling, or job. Still think you’re not addicted?

Ask someone who loves you…they’ll tell you for sure.

What is it then about a technology like a fidget spinner that makes it so forgettable so fast when other technologies continue to addict us day after day, month after month, year after year. Well, think about it this way: What if your Iphone 7 Plus could only do what a 1st Gen Iphone could do? Would you still be hooked? I can remember handling an Iphone for the first time. Strangely enough, it was my dad’s. Now, my dad has always been kind of “techie” in what I thought was an old-man kind of way. But the older I got, the more I realized how with-it he had been when it came to computers, technology, and more recently, Iphones. So anyway, I recall him showing me something on his 1st Gen Iphone that blew my mind. It was the tip of the newness spear, the game-changer, the best Apple had to offer. Wanna know what it was? Screen inertia! It was awesome. I could swipe my finger across the screen, lift it off, and the screen would just keep going….it was hot. I’d never seen anything like it! But it seems pretty lame by today’s standards, doesn’t it? I was done being impressed within about 8 minutes, which is about 7 minutes more than the amount of time I want to dedicate to a fidget spinner anymore.

Now think about this: If the best thing your Iphone 7 Plus had to offer was screen inertia, Apple would be out of business. Technology isn’t a multi-billion dollar industry because people get bored with it.

Technology is only a rainmaker if it keeps people interested, hooked, or could we even say, addicted?

There are very rich companies working really hard right now to give you what do don’t even know you want yet. They will make a few million bucks off our addiction to it, our wanting it, our having to have it, and then they’ll do it all over again when we tire of it. This is what separates computer-based technologies from others. You can only improve a fidget spinner so much.

So here’s the main point: One of the greatest dangers that you need to be self-aware of in your use and pursuit of technology is its ability to make an addict out of you. To assume a role in your life that God did not intend. To jump upon the throne of your heart and force everything else to kneel to it. Now, you may not be addicted to drugs, alcohol, or pornography, but I suggest that technology can make you just as useless to your Creator as any one of those vices.

Here’s a few ways to tell if you’re “hooked” by something that isn’t worth being hooked to:

  1. Isolation. God made you to be a social creature, to love others by caring for their needs first, and to be available for personal fellowship with people. Do you find yourself insisting on being left alone rather than giving attention to those in close proximity? This may be a sign that you’ve forgotten your God-given purpose–a strong indicator that you’re hooked. There are times for quiet moments alone, but these should be the exception rather than the norm. Stay in the group, be part of the group, and don’t be a party of one.
  2. Ignoring. This red flag stems from the first one. Are you so engulfed in your device that you won’t even notice others as they walk by? This is a choice you’re making and indicates your esteem (or lack of it) of other people. If you’re too busy for common courtesies such as saying hello, showing genuine interest in people, and respecting adults when they enter your space, you’re just too busy. In fact, you’re probably too busy with the wrong thing. Put it down, say hello, be courteous and respectful. You’ll show that you’re a human being by doing so.
  3. Insensitivity. Ever caught yourself thinking “I don’t care”? How about when mom is fixing dinner and is obviously stressed out, but you’re too busy texting to help? How about the time your dad was rushing to get the lawn cut and trimmed before dark but you were too preoccupied with your game system to lend a hand? Or the time your brother or sister was swamped with washing dishes, cleaning up after the dog, or working on a pile of homework but your Chromebook kept you from caring? When some thing in your life makes you not care about some one in your life, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to unplug for awhile.

Paul David Tripp says it this way: “Good things become bad things when they become ruling things.” How about it: Do you have any “ruling” things in your life right now? Do you have the character to put it down, push it aside, turn it off, and plug back in to what’s really important? One day your technology will be gone, broken, or obsolete while the relationships of life will be either rich, wilted, or non-existent. That’s a choice that begins today.

Looking for your fidget spinner? Try that shoebox under your bed.

Searching for something better? Look up…because they probably just walked by.

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