Alright, I admit it. I'm a facebook addict. I can't really tell you why my heart eagerly awaits to log in sometimes and see what is "happening" with other people. (Perhaps it appeals to the inner "stalker" in all of us?) Isn't technology these days incredible? I mean, it used to be that if we wanted to check the weather, we had to actually GO OUTSIDE, hold out our hands, look up at the sky, and make our best guess.
And then... came the Weather Channel. Wasn't it so awesome when we got an entire CHANNEL devoted to non-stop weather? (in case we forgot to watch yesterday's evening news) Sure, you had to sit through all the commercials and see that Seattle was going to be rainy (big surprise there), but we thought we were big stuff. We had arrived. Oh, the Weather Channel.
And NOW, all my husband has to do is whip his cell phone out of his pocket, say the word "WEATHER," and in a matter of milliseconds, a screen pops up telling him what the local weather will be like EVERY HOUR. Amazing.
But is it all amazing? I don't know. There's certainly nothing inherently wrong or evil about technology in and of itself (though I suppose some people wouldn't agree with that). I mean, is a computer evil for giving a military wife & children the new ability to Skype with their loved one overseas? Absolutely not! But unfortunately, I am evil. And like all of us in different ways, I like to take things that are created as GOOD and misuse or abuse them. The problem isn't with my computer- it's with my heart.
And with all of the advances in our ability to communicate and spread/share information (like this blog!), I see some sad realities, too. How ironic that these very things that are invented to bring us closer together are many times what is hurting our ability to have real relationships with other people.
Let's just take facebook, for example...
In the world of facebook, I can tailor-make what I want you to know about me. If someone just happened to snap a picture of me on one of those rare good hair-days, you'd better believe that's gonna be my new profile pic. Come to think of it, rarely do you see a profile picture of us at our worst, do you? No one is snapping pictures when I'm speaking harshly to my husband or clipping my toenails, for example. No way! That's not how we want to be seen, so from the very get-go, we've begun a facade of who we really are. We've already warped reality.
And here's the reality: In the "real" world (vs. the online one), it used to be that you had something called "friends." These were different from our 238 facebook "friends"-- no, these were just a few, hand-select group of people that knew what was going on in your day-to-day life. (and I mean REALLY knew what was going on in your life- not just by reading a catchy "status" line that YOU spent hours carefully crafting each word...)
And these friends would do things like come to my door and visit me. (gasp!) They would sit down next to me or go to a real place with me, giving up their day to do it. We would talk. Face-to-face. And sometimes there would be silence. And sometimes there'd be an awkward moment, leaving me not knowing quite what to say. (and I didn't have the "benefit"--or the control in the relationship, rather-- of planning and preparing my responses...whatever left my mouth was it.) And it was messy and awkward and involved... and it was REAL.
As much as I LOVE facebook, the reality is that my facebook "friends" don't even have to get off of their COUCH to see me or to lie/flatter me by saying how cute my pictures are. And I don't have to expend any energy to actually CALL you or talk to you to see how you're doing-- I can just log in at my own convenience! And the problem is that the minute that I "unplug" and I'm left sitting alone on my couch, I'm instantly lonely.
And I feel the desire to have friends.
So I log in.
And thus begins the vicious cycle all over again.
In the "old" days, it used to be that your community of friends helped you understand yourself- you didn't need a computer to tell you what Disney character represented you the best, or how many kids you'll have one day. Those were things we actually TALKED about.
And if we really cared about someone, I mean, really cared, we would:
go out of our house,
get in our car,
drive to a store,
wrap it up,
and hand it to you in person.
A "gift" wasn't a digital image that you clicked to send to someone's computer.
So call me old fashioned, but there are just some things that I think we all need to think upon more reflectively: Why do I like to post a status that I know will get others to comment? What am I using technology for, anyways? Do I read someone's profile page or blog and use that as a substitute for actually knowing them? How much am I using technology in honest, beneficial ways, and how much am I misusing it to have false relationships? What is it in my heart that feels "missing" when I don't have my technology around? And does my justification rest truly in Christ's approval of me, or in how many people say they "like" my status?
Thank goodness Jesus got off the couch (so-to-speak) and came down from heaven to save techno-addicts like us. And he didn't sit around wasting much of his life behind a screen. And he didn't worry about what clever little line he was going to say next. And he didn't have to make himself look better so people would like him. He had a handful of real friends who ate with him, walked with him, and talked with him. And he had thousands of others whom HE sought out, (and walked miles and miles to visit!) meeting real, physical needs, touching and healing and embracing real people. Thankfully he didn't give us digital images that would ultimately leave us lonely and thirsting for more, but He gave us Himself and said, "I am the living water. He who believes in me will never thirst again."
You better believe I'll still be on facebook, coming up with attention-grabbing statuses and commenting on photos of my "friends," but it's certainly no substitute for the real deal. But maybe, just maybe, I'll do a little less typing and a little more talking...