Are We Really Connecting with One Another?
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We are living in the Innovation Era. Thanks to social networking and text messaging, we are more connected to one another than ever before in human history. But, are people really connecting with one another?
Sherry Turkle, a Social Psychologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says although people are more connected than ever before, they're more lonley and distant from one another in their unplugged lives. "People who choose to devote large portions of their time to connecting online are more isolated than ever in their non-virtual lives, leading to emotional disconnection, mental fatigue, and anxiety," says Turkle (Alone in the Crowd).
Think about it: the more attached we are to our devices, the less time we have for face-to-face interaction. We tend to give precedence to people we are not with over people we are with. Let me ask you these questions:
- Do you look at your phone during dinner time?
- Do you look at your phone during a lunch meeting with a friend/family member?
- Do you text while driving?
- Do you look at your phone while your kids are on the playground, or while they are at home?
- Do you look at your phone when you're in bed instead of talking to your spouse?
It's okay to look at your phone (except while driving, of course:), but we can be so consumed with our devices that we forget the people who are standing right in front of us. The more we do this to the people we love, the more we isolate ourselves from them.
As a father of 3 young kids, I struggle with putting my phone down when I get home. I don't want my kids to remember their Dad always being on the phone. I don't want them to feel like the phone took away my attention from them. Here's the reality: if I don't put my device away, my kids won't either. History will repeat itself.
When you spend more time texting, emailing, or checking your Facebook profile then you do talking to someone on the phone or face to face, you lose part of the conversation. Body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are a key part of the conversation. We miss that when we text.
Here's my suggestion: Don't isolate, communicate.
Set boundaries with your devices.
- When you're at home at dinner or at lunch with a friend, put your phone on silent.
- When you get home, put your phone on a table (away from you) and only check it a few times if you must throughout the night.
- Don't take the phone with you when you go for a walk. Look 45 degrees up and not down so you can see God's beauty.
- If you go somewhere with your family (i.e. church or playground), leave your phone in your car (unless you need to take pictures - but keep your phone on silent).
- If you think a conversation will need more than a simple reply, call the person or schedule an appointment.
I've been convicted that I'm not putting others interests above my own (Philippians 2:3-4) when it comes to my phone. We need friendship (Proverbs 27:17; 17:17). We need relationships (Psalm 133:1; Hebrews 10:24-25). Texting is not bad. Social media is not bad. Face to face interaction is better.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." -- Hebrews 10:24-25