- “There’s real people here!”
I’ve been know to say this to people at parties when they are constantly on their smartphones.
Oh, I’ve been that person often enough. When you are bored, awkward, or no one is carrying on a worthwhile conversation around you, it is so much easier to continue texting with someone on your phone. It doesn’t matter where you are physically or even who you are sitting next to. What matters is what we are holding between our thumbs. We’re often at parties and continually talking to someone far away. It looks like this. One conversation on the couch, wait… pause… New Message… the clicketyclack of the keyboard and there- Send, continue verbal conversation. Eat some snacks. New Message. The light glow of the screen on your face. Clicketyclack. Send. Conversation. Laughs. Jokes. New Message. Stop talking. Secretly smile. Clicketyclack. Send.
No one ever thinks about it.
The people we constantly text are real. We have awesome friends that we want constant communication with. We don’t text fake people (unless you are having some fun with the iPhone’s artificial intelligence, Siri). We can be in a quiet room and still let our friends know we care, RSVP to that beach invitation, and tell our parents that we’ll be home for dinner. But when I point out to people buried in their screens that there are “real people” here (otherwise known as me, your friend sitting next to you), they usually remind me that their friend they’re texting is real. “The person behind my screen is a person, just as human, just as valuable!” Very true.
- Though… just as valuable as your friend sitting next to you? Or morevaluable? Your friend is clueless about the details of your text conversation. You continue to tell secrets in front of her, you still organize other plans around her, and you constantly ignore her to talk to someone far away. She might be too shy to say anything or she really doesn’t care… either way, the relational connection has disappeared. That’s not value, on either side of the screen. That is loss of depth perception. In the book, The Church of Facebook, Jesse Rice uses this phrase show how technology has caused many people to lose their awareness of how near or far away individuals are from them. We are endlessly communicating with people in other locations, giving them our time. And this has slowly sucked the quality of our friendships with them, and the people right here.
Have we really got to that point in our relationships?
The other day I was Skyping with my brother David who lives in Australia. Video conferencing has made it possible for us to feel closer despite the miles of distance. But here is a good example where I have lost depth perception and sense of value. My brother was on one window, Safari open on another. We had barely said hi, when instead of initiating a genuine conversation, I clicked on Facebook and continued to chat with my friend who is in the same town as me– who I could easily pick up the phone and call anytime. And I gave my time to that friend while barely focusing on the video chat with my brother at that moment.
I wondered afterwards… How has technology got so twisted?
- It’s the addiction to easy relationship…
As technology has progressed, relational connection has gotten smaller and more portable.From letters to telegraphs to emails to text messages; from word-of-mouth to telephones to cell phones. Even in the last five years, international communication has moved from desktop computers, to laptops, to mobile phones. Phones can fit in our pockets (for the most part, some of my jean pockets are another story), receive the internet (the world’s web of relational connection), and be take anywhere and everywhere.
And we want to be connected everywhere! We want to be continuously talking to those who love us. We don’t want to be defined by the people around us, but in fact, we want to be in communion with those who really love and respect us. Rather than putting our foot out there and causing people to love and respect us. Because that takes work. And texting your best friend is a whole lot easier than entering awkwardly into a party conversation.
- But is this desire wholly bad? Should I mock our need to constantly connect with someone who values us? No. I cannot. For this is a need engrained into our human DNA, ignored for so long, only to be brought about with the invention of the cellphone. We’re all pretty desperate. Yes, our cellphones have distracted us from fully satisfying this need for genuine connection. But they haven’t destroyed our hunger. If anything, they’ve sparked it…
Don’t lose heart. We do have the capability to continually communicate deeply and genuinely with someone who loves us. He loves us. He loves us He loves us He loves us and if you think you’ve got that figured out you need to know now that you don’t. I asked God why I was writing this note, I asked Him why I needed to make myself so vulnerable, I asked Him what He wanted to specifically tell all of you guys and this is what He said.
“Tell them that I love them.”
He loves you. But it’s not just that kind of love you see in your Sunday School bulletin, and it’s not even that kind of love you see in the movies. It’s the kind of love that wants to talk to you every day, the kind of love that wants to know what you are feeling and what you’re doing at every moment, the kind of love that really wants to communicate with you right now. Here! Right where you are! What do you do? Open up your phone? Not at all. Though you can do that if it helps. No, it’s something as simple as prayer.
And it’s not like what you’ve thought prayer to be, it’s not what you’ve expected it to be, it’s as simple as a text message and as deep as the ocean blue… but…
It’s not easy.
- Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
- for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- –1 Thess. 5:16-18, NIV
- Happy are these your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!
- –2 Chronicles 9:7
- Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
- -1 Chronicles 16:11
Yet. I started to try it. If we are constantly encouraged to talk to God continually, it must mean it’s possible. For communication flows out of love. Ask God questions. Listen. Wait for a reply. Tell Him how you feel in those awkward situations. Listen. Jesus is a real person sitting beside you- and He wants to talk to you. He’s a gentleman, and won’t force you to communicate with Him. But He loves you. Don’t lose your depth perception of your relationship with Him. He deserves priority at all times. Hang out with Him daily. Talk to Him constantly. When I do, oh my, it really is amazing.
Chances are, if you make the effort to really and truly love Jesus, you won’t be desperate for human connection anymore. Instead, you will talk to people out of the overflow of the heart of God, and that is true relationship.
That’s where I want to be.