Our church is doing a series on technology. Technology is not good or bad, but it’s not neutral. This Sunday’s lesson was given by a local professor who speaks my language of story, prop, and children’s literature. These were my notes… my impressions… on a coffee cup.
You could say there are 4 levels of relationships:
public (you know their names, but they don’t know yours)
social (acquaintances- you know each other’s names)
personal (close friends)
intimate (means ‘without a mask;’ unconditional and few)
God’s capacity for relationships in infinite. Our capacity for relationships is finite. Having too many or too few relationships… or stressing relationships into the wrong category/priority moves us into physical unhealthy-ness.
Health is not simply an issue of genes, diet, and exercise [example given here from Gladwell's book, Outliers: Rosetta, PA and their strange absence of heart disease which has been decided is a result of the town living in healthy community; loved this book, BTW.]
Community and relationships matter. They make you healthy and they make you sick. It’s all about finding the balance.
Crazy revelation for Kate, as indicated by the poor grammar in her original note: we can have relationships with people… but we can have relationships of varying levels with THINGS as well. Specifically, in this case, we’re talking about the internet, our phone, our Kindle, our laptop, our TV, our GPS: technology.
A significant relationship leaves an impression. Even a public relationship can be significant in your life. I grew up immersed in the world of rock and roll. Lyrics. Album notes and backstories. Fleetwood Mac and I have a public relationship… they do not know me. But, their music made a serious impression on me as a child and a lover of story through song. The same could be said for many authors and athletes in my life. Community, on any level, is necessary to be healthy.
What’s the draw to social media? Conversations- real conversations- happen in real time and cannot be edited. Social media allows us to connect without conversation. We share photos intending for this to equal sharing our life, but often it just cuts short the conversation. You can find community online and you can build relations online, but not at the expense of conversation. If you lose the conversation- the physical community- you will make yourself sick. THIS VIDEO is remarkable. The graphics, the message, everything.
The initial pain of sin (which is generally felt as shame, guilt, anxiety, etc.) is often diffused with technology. Instead of sitting through and working through the uncomfortable, we reach for diversion. Instead of going face-to-face, heart-to-heart, I chose to put a fence between myself and another for supposed safety. This makes us- this makes me- unhealthy. Like, it can actually contribute to me being physically sick.
Am I trading conversation for connection?
Am I working too hard to make some relationships personal when they are better left social? Are there enough people who know me and love me unconditionally, or do I hide that to protect myself.
Do I reach for diversion when I am uncomfortable?
Big questions. Amazing questions.
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” – E.B. White in Charlotte’s Web
She was honest, a friend, a worker. She was the very definition of healthy community. Surrounding someone, using your gifts, and building them up.
I want to be like Charlotte.
I do not want to be so afraid of community that protecting myself comes at the expense of significant relationships.