I have been wondering a lot about how learning about social media has developed into a must for anyone doing ministry. So much in our lives is done through some sort of technology that is supposed to make our lives easier…though I would contend that the technology meant to free us really serves to enslave us (not a conspiracy theory, just an observation about human behavior).
I can’t help but wonder if all of these outlets, whether its facebook, myspace, email, texting etc. aren’t actually giving us a false sense of community. I certainly like the fact that I can talk with friends all around the world, but I spend a lot time paying attention to what others who may live just down the street are doing. Instead of stopping over and seeing them, I feel like I am keeping up with them by checking their statuses. For me this begs the question — Are we substituting virtual interaction with human face to face interaction and calling it community when in fact we aren’t really connecting with each other in any significant way?
I came across this verse in 2 John 1:12 yesterday:
Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
John was using the technology of the day (letter writing) to communicate with those at a distance. However, that wasn’t good enough for him. His joy wasn’t complete until he was able to see these folks face to face. I think John is reminding us that letters are good but face to face interaction is better. I think we can go a step beyond and say texting/email/facebook are good, but face to face is better.
I am not entirely sure how to strike the best balance all of the time, but I do think it is important that we get off our phones, computers, or whatever serves to keep you “connected” and as the folks in my former congregations described it, do some legitimate “neighboring”.