I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets about myself.
First, I love technology. One of my favorite past times is Facebook stalking. When I realize I forgot my phone in my room (heaven forbid), I will run back to get it, even if doing so makes me late for class. Sometimes when there’s a lull in conversation, my go-to-reaction is to take out my phone and at least pretend I’m doing something, so the situation is less awkward.
Here’s the other secret I’m going to share with you: I hate those things about myself.
I really do. We live in an era where we have to be plugged in 24/7, or else we miss the latest circulating news. Unfortunately, this is usually at the sacrifice of connecting with the people around us.
Some of you may say, “But, I am connecting with people! I have 7,583 Facebook friends!”
There is a difference between connection and communication.
Social media is a fantastic way to communicate. However, I’m here to argue that it doesn’t really foster connection. It builds false friendships, false intimacy, and can ultimately leave you feeling pretty lonely, even with your 7,583 “friends.”
There are people who I’m friends with on Facebook. I like their statuses, laugh at their funny selfies, and grin excitedly when they get engaged. But, here’s the sad thing: if I saw the majority of my “friends” in person, I probably wouldn’t congratulate them on their engagement. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to say if just the two of us were to have a conversation. I don’t know any of their fears, struggles, desires, dreams, plans, prayer requests, or feelings. I only know what they choose to put up for the world to see, and I tend to think that’s enough.
In the movie Warm Bodies, R is a zombie struggling to accept his current circumstances. He has a desire to connect with the people around him, but is only able to occasionally grunt and groan. There is one scene when he is thinking back to life before the apocalypse and says, “It must have been so much better before. When everyone could express themselves and communicate their feelings and just enjoy each other’s company.” Ironically, every human in the flashback scene is looking at his/her phone, tablet, computer, or other device, and there isn’t any real connection happening.
That scene reveals so much truth; yet, while it’s humorous, it’s actually really disheartening. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with others. Instead of seeking Him and meditating on His word, some simply post Bible verses on their walls. Instead of actually going to their hurting friend, some simply comment on a post, saying, “I’ll pray for you!” We take the easy route and don’t really connect.
Yes, building real friendships takes more time. Yes, there are sometimes going to be awkward lulls in conversations. But, I think that extra time and those silent moments will be so much more beneficial in the long run, and leave us so much more satisfied.
I have two challenges for you, and I’m also working on these myself. The first is to build real friendships and make connections. That girl in your hall whose name you don’t remember? Take her out to coffee. That guy who posts funny statuses but you’ve never actually talked to? Ask him how you can pray for him, and then take the time to pray. Build community and foster friendships. I only get… we only get, one life. And, at the end of mine, I have a feeling God isn’t going to congratulate me on my 7,583 Facebook friends, but on the real, raw, God-centered relationships I built with those around me.
The second challenge is to spend time on a regular basis completely alone and in complete silence. This means no phone, no Facebook, no talking, no texting. One of my friends (actual friend, not just Facebook friend) sent me this quote:
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private; and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” –C.S. Lewis
In those times of solitude, silence, and private, I think we can learn a lot about ourselves, God, and our relationships with others. We get to see, take in, and appreciate the beauty around us. We get to think without being interrupted. We get a chance to truly enjoy life. Afterall…