We live in a world where we are connected for communication better than ever. Few people write letters by hand and mail them anymore. We have the ability to call, text, email and message from anywhere on the planet to anywhere else on the planet — especially with these new satellite smart phones.
We’re definitely connected, cyberly, but as it turns out, it’s quite superficial.
Yes, we can stay connected to friends and reconnect with old friends like never before — even if people move far away. We feel more socially connected with so many social media venues on our smartphones, and with the way we play video games across the internet, interacting with people from all over the world.
Still, it’s quite superficial.
Yes, we’re connected socially, but we’re less social. We’re communicating with others on the internet more, but we’re not always communicating well. We’re able to stay connected to friends and family, but we’re actually cutting people out of our lives on social media more and more.
We might be connecting, cyberly, but we’re disconnecting practically. We might have more social connections on the internet and in apps now, but we’re more reclusive and less social in reality. We’re able to stay connected to family and friends, but we’re burning bridges more than ever.
What’s going on? Why is this happening?
Certainly mass media and political puppet masters have certainly played a role in dividing our nation. It’s hard to believe how people have destroyed friendships over differing political views. It’s as if we’ve forgotten the value of friendships and family. We’re willing to rip apart great relationships over the dumbest things. We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve decided people with opinions different than ours are evil and toxic.
Former President Barack Obama just recently highlighted this new judgmental attitude that has cropped up in the “woke” movement. People think they are more “woke” to societal issues than others, so the others are worthless, evil enemies.
He’s right. We’ve gone too far.
We’ve made progress in learning to remove toxic people from our lives, but we’ve gone too far. We’re too quick to label people as toxic and cut them out of our lives. Just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t make them toxic. Just because someone makes an effort to correct you or hurts your feelings doesn’t make them toxic.
One of the disturbing things we see in the homeless epidemic is that many of the homeless are people who burned bridges with their families and are afraid to try to reconnect. Some are embarrassed. Some believe they’ve done too much damage — which may be true. But how do we get to the point where we’re treating family with toxicity like we do?
Much has been said and written about the negative impacts of too much screen time (a new good read is “Be the Parent Please” by Naomi Schaeffer Riley). We think we’re social as we spend time on our screens, but we’re less social now. Social media can never replace real person-to-person, face-to-face interactions.
Have you seen families at restaurants, all sitting together, but on their phones, not talking? Have you seen teens and adults together but not talking to each other while they’re on their phones? We’re pretending to be social while we’re not socializing with the people right in front of us!
People, we need each other.
We are designed to work better together. So let’s stop pretending to be social and get back to interacting face-to-face. Then, maybe we’ll really be “woke.”
“And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ephesians 4:12b, NKJV).
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.