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Social media is no substitute for face-to-face interaction

“Oh my, the times that we live in.”  The statement is not necessarily meant to be negative.  There are always good and bad that go along with any time period in which we humans exist.

Think about it!  Have you ever talked to an older relative or friend and they say something like, “Back in my day, we respected our parents!”  This declaration usually is stated to imply that things are very much different (as the speaker sees it) than a time that they have lived through, which is usually a time period in which you yourself had not existed in.  Have you ever noticed that the times were always better back then?

Don’t feel bad for not having lived then.  In many cases, the elder spokesman thinks about a particular issue that was good for them, but they tend to forget all of the negative that went on during their time as well, especially if a positive spin cannot be made on it.

But when it comes to technology, and the consequences from it playing such a major role in many of our daily lives in this very moment, it would be right to say, “Oh my,” to the times that we live in.  Things are taking place now that seem a bit strange.  In this particular piece, I am referring to how strange it is that our relationships with others are taking some blows to their foundations because we rely so much on technology, and specifically, the social media aspects of our technological advancements.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Social media sites are great!  I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook, but I am always on Twitter (shameless plug: @DannerJerome).  Many of us get our news from these very sites.  We get to check in on family, old classmates, and follow our favorite celebrities and be a part of some group that gives us connections to people from around the world.

The problem is that these very social media sites were never meant to be (or should have never been put in the place of) an alternative to meaningful relationships that are built off of conversation and interactions in the home.  I was talking to a coworker recently about her receiving updates about family members through Facebook.  She told me that she found out about the death of a family member by their child through the site!  That’s right!  It was an update on Facebook.  Whatever happened to phone calls? Whatever happened to calling family members that called family members that would let others know about the tragedy at hand?

Are we so far gone as a culture that calling someone has become too much to ask?  Some folks would say yes.

I know what some might say: “Jerome, it would take too long for me to call folks while I’m hurting.  A Facebook post would make it so much easier.  Plus, I am not close to everyone on Facebook anyway.”  Part of me gets it.  It is quick.  We live in a world where we want everything right away – instant gratification.  But to sacrifice healthy, deep relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters for moments of silence and to ourselves is not of a real benefit to you or me in the long run.

I have written on my blog before about the importance of community and I think that is something that I should touch on briefly here.  Community, I believe, was meant to be this beautiful connection between each of us for our own greater good.  We should be there for one another for a number of reasons.  But being there for one another means understanding one another.  It is going deeper than greetings and working with each other.  It is valuing one another and understanding that each human being has a way that they have experienced things that has given them wisdom, which may be of encouragement to you if you would take the time to listen to their story.  Jesus reminded us in the 22nd chapter of the book of Matthew that we ought to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”  Think about that: you love yourself deeply, so you should actually love others just as much.  (Of course, that is assuming that whomever reads this piece loves their own self and considers themselves to be of actual value.)  There is more to each of us than just the way we look, therefore, we should seek to connect with others and express love to them that gets deeper than face value.

Yes, social media….DONE RIGHT….and balanced and healthy is not necessarily a sin.  Moreover, social media in some ways has been quite a help to our staying in touch with our fellow human beings.  Although updates on a social media website keeps you cognizant of the lives that you are near to or far from in distance, if relied on completely for every bit of news in those lives, then it takes the place of actual kinship and actual brotherhood/sisterhood and actual loving relationships and friendships.

Do you really want to let social media sites be the primary means for you to have and maintain familial bonds and friendships?

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