Have you ever had a one-on-one with someone where you daydreamed together, shared details about your life, and just laughed for hours? Did you walk away from that one-on-one feeling empty? Did you walk away thinking, “man, this friendship is going nowhere”? Of course not! Usually a person feels a sense of peace and belonging after sharing and imagining and laughing with another person. Now imagine the same scenario of sharing daydreams and details with the same person, except this time it’s through text messaging. Is the same sense of peace and belonging experienced? Do you feel a sense of emptiness? Does it feel as if you need to fill that emptiness by physically talking to that person face-to-face?
I’ve experienced a deep conviction about this topic. I got my first cell phone when I turned thirteen years old. I didn’t start texting people until I was about fifteen years old. I think it’s safe to say I’ve essentially grown up with the technical generation. I’ve had a MySpace account, Twitter account, Facebook account, Snapchat account, Instagram account, Google+ account, MyYearbook account, and Pinterest account. I created every account known to man, yet I still felt empty. I still felt like I didn’t belong. I felt a sense of disconnect among friends. Why? Why is it when families eat together, most everyone is on their phone or talking about a post that was seen on Facebook? Why is it when friends get together, everyone gets on their favorite social media account instead of spending time together making memories?
The enemy has obviously warped a lot of things in this world, but one thing I hate that he’s warped is how we connect. How easy is it to text someone as opposed to calling them? You want everyone in your world to know what’s going on with you, so you quickly type your thoughts in 100 words or less and within one minute, everyone knows your life story. What’s happened to modesty? What’s happened to sleep overs with made up ghost stories and adventures? Why must cell phones be attached to a person’s hip 24-hours a day?
I’m not at all against social media and technology. In fact, I believe a lot of good can come from technology. What I’m against is replacing real friendships with the idea that staying up to date with people through social media creates a true friendship. I’m against the idea that a true friendship can thrive through social media. Social media tends to give the illusion that because we know everything about everyone, we’re all friends. Because we know Annie’s grandmother died, Susie Q had a baby, and Bobby got married, we’re up to date on everything going on in their lives. Social media convinces us that because we know minute details about people, we don’t need to actually connect with them face-to-face.
There’s something terribly wrong when we choose to talk with others through a screen rather than face-to-face. I’m the most guilty when it comes to this. I prefer to text people instead of talk on the phone. In my mind it’s quicker to shoot a text than to dial a phone number (how does that even make sense when all we have to do is tap a person’s name to call?). For a long time I thought I felt this way because I was basically raised texting people. I don’t believe that’s the case at all. I believe the reason I, like many others, choose to text as opposed to call people is because of fear. Fear that the person won’t like who we are without the backspaces and perfectly spelled words and corrected sentences. Fear that whatever comes out of our mouths first might scare a person away.
Truly connecting with people scares this generation and it really shouldn’t. Think about this — what would happen if we all put down our phones and got to know each other without the front that we put up on social media? What would happen if we listened to someone talk rather than read what they’re thinking? Imagine the intimacy in friendships if we actually spent time together when hanging out, rather than sit around a table on our phones the entire time. Imagine the conversations that might form if families put down their devices at dinner time. Imagine.
I’m taking a stand against the over use of technology. Obviously we’ve become so dependent on technology that now it’s almost impossible to go a day without using it. But I want to challenge you today — when you’re at work eating lunch, instead of using your phone to “catch up” with all those people that don’t really matter on Facebook, stir up a conversation with a co-worker. Instead of grabbing your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, pay attention to the elderly lady in front of you (she may have a story or two to benefit you). Say hello to a stranger. Pay for someone’s dinner. Pay attention to the world around you, not the world inside your device. Because I can guarantee you the people in your “social media world” won’t be there for you when you need them. In the end, the people physically surrounding you will be the one’s that are there laughing through your best times and helping you through your toughest times.