The following is written by Cindy Ehlke of the CalvaryPresbyterian Church:
Relationships are important. As human beings, we are meant to be in relationship with one another. We have family members, significant others, close friends. Even for persons who tend to be introverts, there are times when the need to be with others is still a necessity.
Scripture speaks to this need from the very beginning.
In the creation story, God states that what was created was good, except for one thing. Can you guess what that was? Well, God said that it was not good that man should be alone. So God created a helper and that was woman. The key phrase that is the focus of this article is the phrase that “man should not be alone.” Human beings are social creatures and are meant to spend time with one another.
Now, I was not able to eavesdrop on these two persons, but I am pretty sure they had to talk to one another face to face.
Lately, I have become increasingly more aware of our dependence upon social media and our almost obsessive preoccupation with our cell phones and tablets. Friends of mine and I have shared stories about going into restaurants and observing families who are there. Often each family member has a cell phone or iPhone and they spend most of the dinnertime texting. Next to no conversation among the people takes place. It makes me wonder why they even bother to eat together.
In the dark past when I was a youngster, my parents and I would talk to each other during meals. Often we could make plans or talk about things for which we needed mutual support.
Another concern is for the lack of feedback we get if we send messages by text or on Facebook posts. You cannot see the facial expression or other signs of response to the message you have sent. I depend upon nonverbal as well as verbal feedback to things that I say to others. Correction of a misunderstanding or clarification of a message can take place right away.
It seems to me that the potential for hurt feelings or misunderstanding of the message increases with social media.
The other consequence of social media is not as easy to detect. But lately I have noticed there is a lot of self-focused behavior that is fostered by using social media. We walk around oblivious to others around us. We become preoccupied with creating pictures of ourselves using our cellphone cameras. I think this translates into a self-preoccupation that affects our ability to work with others. We tend to have a narrower perspective about how our actions affect others.
Some signs of correcting this trend give one hope. There are parents who tell the kids to come to the dinner table or other functions and have to “check the phone at the door.” Families plan activities and games where direct human interaction is fostered.
To return to the basic idea: we are wired to be in community. Think about the concept of the Trinity.
We think about the Trinity as God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are interrelated, each with a distinct role to play in the Kingdom of God and yet connected. In simple terms, it helps me to think of the Trinity as God’s family unit.
It hit me as I was writing this article that if God has an interconnection in the Trinity as well as dwelling within each of us, then we owe it to ourselves to take that seriously. First, to foster meaningful connections with one another and to remain connected to our source. The theologian Paul Tillich describes God as the “ground of being.” The alternative is non-being. When we think of our lives in such stark terms, it is a no–brainer, at least in my thinking. I choose to remain connected to God. If this connection is kept fresh and alive by faith, then my relationships to others should become more meaningful.
Take good care of yourself and others who are close to you. Take some time each day to set aside the cellphones and other social media and replace that with time spent in God’s presence and then with others with whom you are close.