Much has been written and discussed about social media and technology; some praise, others vilify. I think, used properly, it has its place and enhances our abilities to learn and be involved, technically, with others. I joined Facebook in July, 2014 because I felt isolated from what others were experiencing and felt muted while I heard others discussing things online about things online.
I have two prescriptions to help me medically; one is for blood pressure and the other is my chemo pill. With my medication, the drug store adds a bulletin that describes possible side effects my medicine could cause in my body. The intent of the medicine is to help me, but in helping me, it could cause a secondary problem.
I think with the technology we have available to us, there is a side effect that has caused a secondary problem. I’m calling that problem a silent killer because it has a side effect that is hurting our ability to communicate face to face with other people. Some of the symptoms are feeling isolated and lonely.
How could this happen when we have two hundred, or two thousand Facebook “friends”? May I be honest? I’ve never been a popular guy. I am shy, with insecurities and lack the ability to instantly say the right thing. I have to process situations and conversations before I speak. I don’t have the physical presence to wow anyone. I have never felt like I was part of it, whatever “it” is. Men don’t seem to warm to me quickly. I did not play sports in school. I was not in the military. My college education was at night. So on several levels I don’t connect. I don’t have children, so some women feel since I don’t have a “family” it’s better to avoid me. I have no lifelong friends. I understand I am not “normal” and that’s okay, that’s the way I was created and therefore it has a purpose to fulfill and I want to fulfill it.
So what does all of this have to do with social media or anything else? Just this, the good side of social media is that it allows a guy like me to have a voice; to be able to express myself to someone else I know personal or someone somewhere in the world that I have never met, based only on our words to one another. I like that, I think it is good. The problem comes when we get with other people. We don’t seem to know how to “talk” with anyone.
Have you been in a restaurant and watched others with their iPhone? Many sit looking only at their phone without ever looking at the person across the table from them, much less talk to them. I have seen others receive a text, which breaks any conversation they might have had to talk with someone else.
Have you received an email that the sender makes a statement that you read as being harsh or unkind, while the sender meant nothing by it or thought they were being funny? I suppose that is why initials like LOL or emoticons started being displayed.
I’m not saying phones and Facebook don’t have a place, I’m saying I think we are relying on them too much and it is hurting our ability to interact one on one. And when that happens we begin to feel isolated and lonely.
Here is another example. Do you think everything you see on a Facebook page is the complete, whole story or are there selected bits of someone’s life that is framed to present an image? Have you looked at someone’s profile photo and thought “That is certainly an attractive person” only to look at some of their other photos and realized they filtered their photo to show them in the best light. When we see someone in person we are seeing the un-filtered person, not a photo shopped version.
Some present themselves like their lives were scripted and they lived in Disneyland. “I have the most perfect husband/wife/children/whatever” Really? Do you post when you don’t like what they do? I bought flowers for Terrie, yesterday. She was feeling lonely and down. I wanted to make her feel better and try to fill her “love tank”. She was excited about the flowers and posted a photo of them and said I was the “sweetest husband”. But I’m thankful she doesn’t post when I mess up or get mad. I’m not advocating you put all of your laundry on the line for all to see. I saying when we talk with others, you understand and know life is not perfect and you connect with that person and know you share something in common, which takes you out of isolation.
What of the bigger picture? When we all start to only communicate through a device? How does that effect something like a church service? Or instead of visiting with my neighbor, I invite them to read my blog to see what I’m about. How does it affect my neighborhood or city, my state, my nation?
I believe it is vital for us to maintain our ability to talk. There are times someone needs to hear you praying for them, not just read that you have prayed for them. In Genesis 2 and 3, it speaks of God speaking directly to Adam and to Eve. I take it that He did that daily. What a blessing!
It is a challenge, but I think we need to take more time to talk and listen, than just to type or read. Will you join me?
What is your thoughts?