Good Afternoon! I have a lot of important to-do’s to get to today, so my plan for today was to spring an impromptu coffee date on you all and chat. Or catch up on our lunch or dinner breaks, whatever works.
After hearing your responses from the Session Discussions, you made it clear that you guys enjoy Coffee Talks. Well, most of you anyways. If you’re one who thinks I’m ridiculous and rambling about nonsense, then you might want to pop back in to the blog tomorrow.
Today’s discussion stems from a sermon during our church service over the weekend. We are in the middle of a series discussing Digital Sins, and this week’s message was about how we perceive the connections we make with others online.
This subject intrigued me, but at as blogger, I felt called to share it with you. So go on and grab a cup of coffee… it’s gonna be a good one!
Coffee Talk: Digital vs. Real Friendships
This Sunday’s message was all about relationships: the ones we form in person, and the ones we form online.
Our pastor opened by pointing out that this generation of children and young adults are growing up in a world where social media and typed messages is how we immediately think to communicate with each other, and this grabbed my attention right away.
How many friends do you have?
Ten? Twenty? Four hundred and eighty five?
It all depends on what you consider to be a friend.
The third answer is what a teenager might say, based on his or her following online. Those followers and subscribers behind the computer screen are their friends, right? It might seem that way, and they might really think so.
Since the smart phone came into our lives, what we do to communicate and maintain friendships has completely changed. Instead of picking up a phone and calling someone, we can easily send a quick text or direct message. And sadly, a lot of our in-person interactions with each other turn into only online or digital conversations.
Living this way may not seem like a big deal to some, but totally foreign and almost robotic to others.
When we spend hours and hours staring at a small screen, we disconnect from the real world going on right around us. The visual of having a group of friends get together and seeing at least half of them staring at their phones and in their own separate bubbles seems all too familiar.
What might they be doing? Texting? Catching up on social media? It seems like this social media world is what is making us less social.
As a blogger, this message hit home to me. I’ve thought about it and discussed it with friends before, but I feel like I have a presence online and have also formed friendships through blogging and social media.
Of course, I value the ones where I have actually met and connected with the person at the other end of the screen differently, but overall, it’s not uncommon for bloggers and people invested in social media to think of their online following and personas as who they are and who they are friends with.
What really made me think is when he brought up how easy it is to erase digital relationships. Basically, unfriend or unfollow somebody and you never have to see them again. It’s that simple.
I hear about people “cleaning up” their friend list all the time, and have to admit to doing it a time or two. But if picking and choosing your friends is that easy, what makes those relationships real and genuine?
The biggest misconception online is that our lives are perfect. The majority of us only post the positive, and most of us fail to remember that while aimlessly browsing pages.
I wrote about this subject in a discussion about The Comparison Game, and stand firm in my point that who we are online is not always who we are in reality.
I strive to represent who I am in person on this blog and often include posts like these and sarcastic comments making fun of myself to show that, but there’s only so much you can gather from pictures and words. Virtually following people and interacting with them in-person are two completely different types of friendships, and I personally believe it’s important to have at least a handful of consistent face-to-face friendships!
Also, maintaining a digital relationship doesn’t require commitment. Online, you can type a quick “Happy Birthday” only after being reminded by a website, and comment on your friend’s picture of their baby instead of calling them to tell them what you think.
Smart phones and social media are both a blessing and a curse in my eyes.
Making an Effort to Look Up
I can’t say that I have never been called out for excessively being on my phone or computer.
Not only do I take pictures of a lot of my life with my iPhone, but I then go and edit the photos, and share them with you guys via Instgram, Facebook or Twitter. Then if I get a comment or like on that picture, I get notified and have a desire to see what it says. So I usually look. Then I comment back. It can take a considerable amount of time to do so, and that’s just pictures.
I love being able to keep up with my favorite blogs via Bloglovin’ and have the WordPress app installed to draft posts and respond to comments wherever I am. It’s great to have accessible in boring waiting rooms, but not so great to have right there and available during an outing with friends.
You don’t want to ignore interaction with your online friends, but you don’t want to be totally consumed either. Just like living an active lifestyle and eating healthy, it’s all about finding a balance of when to look down and when to look up.
To help close the message, he put on this video Scott actually shared with me a few months ago. It’s wonderfully written and produced, and makes you take a step back and realize how ridiculous we look constantly staring at our phones.
And it’s all so, so true.
The day I first saw that video, I made a conscious effort to keep my phone away from me, unless I really needed it for something like a phone call. I stayed off of social media and enjoyed an entire day driving around with Scott in the car, dining out, and going to see a movie.
Funny enough, it was one of my favorite day dates we’ve had in a really long time. Because we made eye contact. We put away the distractions. We listened to music in the car and partook in interesting conversations on the way to places. We connected.
I am the first to admit that I am reliant on my smart phone for almost anything. Directions, recipe inspirations, workout tracking, a stopwatch, a calculator, and even a quick google search are all things I grab my phone for. But what would happen if we didn’t rely so heavily on our phones for those type of things?
I love the part in the video where the couple meets on the street because the man is lost and the woman helps him with directions. Something as easy as that interaction would have never happened if he had depended on his smart phone for the answers.
In a sense, our smart phones are not making us smart (and social) people.
The Importance of Real Relationships
Our pastor made three specific points to take home from the message about what real relationships are and what they require:
1. Face to face: looking into each other’s eyes.
2. Heart to heart: opening up your heart to connect with somebody.
3. Arm in arm: walking together to go somewhere.
We need to realize the difference between our online and real relationships, and make real ones the priority.
If you need help thinking about it, ask yourself:
Who do I really know? Who really knows me?
That friend of a friend you just congratulated on their new home, or your best friend from middle school who you’ve been meaning to pick up a phone and actually call? You are the only one who can decide where to spend your time.
God made us to do life with others and to form relationships. His intention was not for us to isolate ourselves into a world of only connecting online.
We spend so much time declaring eating this way and working out that way healthy, but often forget how important our relationships and social interactions play a part in our overall health and well being.
We were wired to form communities and friendships in order to thrive. Real face-to-face relationships that make us laugh, cry, and act silly.
I thought what was said next was really interesting.
Happiness is not judged on your job, health, and financial security, but on relationships and friendships.
According to actual scientific studies he researched and shared with us, overall, people who didn’t eat as health conscious but were surrounded by genuine friendships lived a lot happier, and sometimes even longer lives than those who constantly watched what they ate, went to the gym, and connected to most their friendships online.
The “It’s better to eat Twinkies with friends than eat broccoli alone” theory.
So, what I’m getting at and hope you take away from this talk is to:
Love one another, genuinely. Not superficially.
Create and value real friendships.
Put in the effort to be a good in-person friend.
Disconnect when it’s time.
Turn off the phone when you’re with people who matter.
Make an effort to realize what is real and what isn’t.
And spend your free time loving on those who matter.
(Even the ones with four legs and fur.)
Previous Coffee Talks and Related Posts:
Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you in the morning!
Questions of the Day
• Do you have any rules in your household or relationship about putting electronics down?
• When was the last time you spent an entire day looking up?
Over the past few months, Scott and I have been complying to a new rule on Date Night. No phones. When we make the effort of enjoying a night out, or even in together, we follow up by leaving the the iPhones and iPads at home or at least in the car. Nothing has to be answered that quickly, and everything can, in fact, wait until there’s a better time to get back to it.
After this sermon, we talked about enforcing a “no phones” time every night for a couple of hours. I think it’s a great idea and would even like to push it further and create a “no phones” room. Like our bedroom.
A lot of people have told me they don’t have a television in their bedroom for this reason, and I know we are very guilty of staying up way too late and talking too little because of technology. It’s all a work in progress, but the first step is to verbally communicate what you’d like to change!