When I did a quick straw poll of my facebook friends, asking them ‘Complete the sentence, ‘Social media makes me feel […]’, a number of them said ‘connected’. Hmm. Really? (BTW I’m doing this post in Five Minutes, unedited).
There must be a lot of people out there who have fallen into some of the same pitfalls as I have. A male friend of mine lives overseas (and working in the Christian mission world gives you a lot of those) – we started emailing regularly several years ago. Just friendly, like… But after a while these two single souls started to share more deeply, and got rather tangled up in a not-quite-real world of open hearts and longing for more geographical closeness.
We shared a lot of content that was really, really encouraging. Wonderful stuff. The kind of stuff that made you worship God more and love Him more deeply. Surely that’s a good thing? We shared prayer needs, and ministry concerns. The kingdom of God could come as we prayed together and we saw Him answer our prayers… Surely a good thing? Sharing delight in observing daily life, news about friends, art and poetry… all good?
But the 1-1 context, and the regularity of contact, and the absence of normalising, mutual, and physically present friends was a vacuum that made the situation collapse. My heart couldn’t contain the feelings that kept growing as I interacted like this. I found myself fighting against the medium, wishing the words on the screen were not just 2-dimensional, but that I could see the face of my friend, hold their hand in prayer and friendship… Be with his friends too. Oh, that this ‘connection’ would be so much more!
Were we connected? Yes and no. Yes, yes, yes, oh how my heart felt connected. And no, no, no, how far away and frustrated I felt too. You might have seen the funny footage of kittens which pounce on mirrors, trying to fight with their own reflection that they see there. That’s how skittish I became, trying to ‘connect’ through digital.
Fast forward to the end of a prolonged and difficult detachment… we landed as still ‘friends’, but no longer emailing. That was a while ago now. So… is that connected, or not?