Bacevich's thesis is a stronger version of the old claim that we spend too much time staring at screens, that life was meant for so much more. This has been a special concern for religious leaders; this year, an interfaith group including the National Council of Churches, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, and the Islamic Society of North America held a "media fast" during Holy Week. They asked people to step away from smartphones, TVs, laptops, desktops, and e-readers for a week in order to "enter into the 'brave old world' of unmediated connection," as one minister put it.
The argument also has distant shades of agrarian Christian writer Wendell Berry, whose famous short 1987 essay "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer" also lamented that that technology could become an idol distracting us from what truly matters in life. "I do not see that computers are bringing us one step nearer to anything that does matter to me: peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, good work," Berry wrote.
Only when someone has used a computer to write a work superior to that produced by Dante will Berry "speak of computers with a more respectful tone of voice, though I still will not buy one." (One of his 9 theses about new technology was that "it should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools," which suggests he would not be a fan of smartphones, either.)