"Are Cyber Friends real friends?"
Last time I explored this subject it became one of the most popular posts I had written. It certainly generated fascinating comments from many perspectives. Recently, I had a stimulating conversation with two friends, Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt. We were talking about the disadvantages and advantages of social media
and the role it plays in personal relationships. Jeff Goins
has written a fascinating article claiming that the internet is not a neutral medium. He says social media is an inherently impersonal medium that can disguise itself as real relationship and counsels that it must be carefully managed lest it isolate us from real friendships.
I am convinced that the value of social media is much more informational than relational. This has been true of all forms of communication from the beginning of time.
- When God wanted to reveal the “Ten Commandments” to Moses He used the first “iRock.” It was very heavy, broke the first time it was dropped, but evidently came with a warranty. It worked just fine. I can even imagine that Moses’ friends were quite offended when he kept glancing at it at the dinner table.
- When God wanted to call Moses into service, He released “The iBurning Bush.” Although the idea never caught the attention of the Jewish market, Moses certainly got the message. In this case, God didn’t need 100,000 followers, just one good leader.
- When God wanted to warn King Belshazzar of impending national disaster, He released the first stunning version of the iPad, It featured a remote controlled finger that wrote an ominous message on a screen the size of a wall.
- When God wanted to give the Israelites directions to the promised land, He released the first GPS, with a guidance system that worked day or night, and even had a recalculating feature.
Now let me take my tongue out of my cheek and express my point.
- When God wanted to demonstrate His love for us, when He wanted to extend the possibility of real relationship with Him it required nothing less than flesh meeting flesh. Though He had communicated in times past by prophets and all means of wonderful gadgetry, to communicate love He sent his Son, Jesus to meet us face to face. The tablets and burning bushes and pillars of fire were replaced with dinners, embraces, personal touch and Holy blood spilled on barren ground.
I am so glad God didn’t text, e-mail, twitter or blog His message of love to me. If He had come to earth in this day and age, He might have used social media to announce His coming or keep record of His being here, but only the incarnation, the appearance of God in the flesh could consummate the relationship He desired with us.
Social Media’s greatest contribution is the entree it creates for real relationships. And as with Christ’s example, relationships are only consummated when flesh touches flesh. I have thousands of social media “friends” but real relationship happened when we looked each other in the eye, shook hands, embraced, and broke bread together. Before that we were acquaintances separated by a thin digital line. When we met, real people became real friends. Real relationship was born.
I am so grateful for those of you I have only met through this medium. There is a bond between us that we would never have existed except for the internet. In a post entitled "Disciplines of the Heart," Michael Hyatt said this, “In a world of social media and faux connections, we must be intentional about building authentic relationships and real community.” Although I know this can’t happen with everyone, I look forward to the day you and I might meet, move beyond the thin digital line and take a step toward real relationship.