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:
• Moving Past What Doesn’t Matter
• Session 4: Embracing Your Role as An Influencer
• Session 3: Embracing the Role You Never Wanted
• Session 2: The Comparison Game + Embracing Your Role As a Friend
• Session 1: Embracing the Here and Now
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!
Very interesting! In my ::limited:: experience as a blogger, I feel as though the virtual world of bloggers mimics social scenarios in real life. There were/are the “popular” bloggers, and little cliques of bloggers that all seem to be “great friends”. As a blogger, I wanted so badly to be “part” of those groups (I wanted those bloggers to read my blog and be “friends” with me too).
I was clearly blogging for the wrong reasons so I had to stop for my own sanity.
I didn’t want to invest so much time/worry/energy into virtual relationships, which may have ultimately impacted my real-life relationships. I definitely get too wrapped up into virtual relationships when i forget to appreciate living in the moment, in my real life.
I like this topic! It’s extremely relevant to how our culture (for better or for worse) is now.
Ha. That’s funny you bring that up. I actually agree with that and after reading people’s recaps of blogger meet-ups and conferences, a lot of people feel the same way. When it comes to running your own blog, you have to do it for you and nobody else. Not even for the free stuff, (!!) but because you want to have a voice and write for yourself. It’s definitely not for everyone, so that’s so great that you recognized that it would probably be in your best interest to stop. I love that you now have a better appreciation for what’s going on in your life right now. Thanks for commenting!
Em @ Love A Latte
Sometimes I feel like my phone is taking over my life. It’s really really nice to take a break from it. We don’t have a TV in our bedroom and I like that. However, we do have an iPad that we can watch shows on so I don’t know that the whole no TV thing really then applies. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it can definitely be too all consuming at times.
I can feel the same way. That’s why my favorite vacations are international, or in the woods where I don’t even have service. It’s such a nice break from it all. But, I have to admit, it feels good to connect with people and get back to the norm when I get home too. I guess it’s all about the balance!
I absolutely loved this. Billy and I were actually just talking about this similar thing over lunch before I saw this! I was really happy when I actually started using hootsuite because it took away a lot of time I spent on my phone! Thanks again for telling me about that! 🙂
I feel like the topic is becoming popular among our age group. Well, you’re age group and then mine too (<- what, like a decade? lol!) Glad you're utilizing Hootsuite! 🙂
Thank you so much for these words! So true!
But how can we create a friendship? Get to know other people? Especially after you moved to a new area, with a new job, knowing nobody?
Thank you for commenting, Conny! Hmm… those are tricky questions, and I wish I had the best answers for you. I feel like I am still trying to figure them out myself. The best thing I can tell you is to embrace where you are and make an effort to put yourself out there. Having a new job can be socially intimidating, but at the same time is an opportunity to meet and get to know an entire new group of people! Most of the friends Scott and I have up here since we moved came directly from work. After about a year and a half, we finally started branching out to get involved in small church groups and are just now meeting new people through that community as well. I agree, it’s very hard to do! But, you just have to put your fears aside and go for it. Look up! (No matter how bad you want to keep to yourself.) You never know where or when you’ll meet somebody that can make a difference in your life!
I really like the idea of taking the chance to get to know a new group of people. And I’m a person who gets along with anybody very well. But unfortunately there’s a huge difference between just getting along with somebody and being friends with somebody. 🙂
Leslie @ Life Begins at 30?
Great post!! We have a rule that we plug our phones in at 10pm every night and have an hour of no phone time. I also try to make more of an effort to leave my phone in my purse when out with friends. I definitely should do more and be more aware because a lot of times I feel like I am way too attached to it!
I love that rule! Scott and I just talked last night about making a 10-midnight rule, which will hopefully help us go to bed by then. We are huge night owls! :/
This Northern Belle
This is perfect. 1.”Happiness is not judged on your job, health, and financial security, but on relationships and friendships.” I loved this part. Mostly because I think it’s sad that things like Social Media have belittled the word “friend” into an almost meaningless word that is more of a competition than a relationship. And if all of our “friends” are people we don’t know or care to invest in but random acquaitances online, then how, according to that awesome quote, is our happiness even being judged? Just so well put. And 2., I think it’s SO true when you said who we are online is not always who we are in reality. You can be anybody online and I think that’s half the thrill for people. Which is sad because no one just wants to be themselves. And in all honesty, their online persona is probably not half as great as their true self. I know I’ve been guilty of too-much-computer/iPhone-time so it’s always a good reminder to have that balance. Such a great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂 PS. sorry for the novel-like-comment haha
I loved that quote too. I can’t take credit for it, since it was words coming directly from my pastor, but loved the message. I totally agree with what you said about being whoever you want to be online. Those who don’t really know you would never know, right? Crazy to think!
I try to avoid my phone and computer on weekends as I’m stuck in front of a computer all week for work. Even if I’m doing cool things and taking pictures, I like to wait until the evening to post to social media so I don’t get caught up responding to people’s comments while I’m still out and about. It’s a very hard thing to disengage from though.
I feel you, sister. I don’t work at a desk job at a computer, but spend the majority of my weekdays working on the computer at home, so only every once in a while will you see me post something on the weekends. I try to turn off my notifications for most social media settings, just so I’m not tempted to constantly be online and on the phone. That’s helped a lot!
Beautifully written Heather.. this topic was just what my sister and I were discussing at lunch today. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and let me tell you, I love how “real” you keep it. You are one of the few bloggers out there, that will say she is having a bad day, or you just ate chocolate. Love your blog and your postitve energy!!! This is my first time posting to you, but II so agree with every point you made today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you so much for reading, Cheryl! I’m glad you could relate to the post. And hey, keeping it real is what I do best… ha! 😉
Rachel @ Blonde with a Chanse
My hubby and I have a T.V. in our room and we are definitely guilty of watching too much television and talking too little. I also like to read blogs at night after my 4 month old has gone to bed and that to is obviously using technology and social media. I really agree that balance is the key 🙂
Love love love this message! It is definitely been something that has been on my mind. This is such a good reminder to take a step away and enjoy the moment with others.
Glad you enjoyed the post!
Such a good point. I am finding that my husband and I are on our phones more than ever, whether it be for work, for a quick google search, FB, etc. It’s become excessive. I like your idea about no phones during date night or even for a couple hours each night. I think I need to encourage that same thing. Work or social media can totally wait for a few hours while we have a nice dinner out once in a while. Balance IS key!
It really does make a such a big difference in the quality time spent in our night!
Anubhav Raj (@AnubhavWP)
Thank you so much Heather for this post. Actually from last one month i was very depressed , continuously i was thinking about my online friend , actually i was fall in love with her but i was not even trying to meet her. Now she is not talking with me n i feel very bad.
But i don’t know why i forget that this is just an online friendship and it had nothing any value beyond this. If i am in love with her , i must have to met her. And i realized this with your post. May be she has faced some problem right now that’s why she can’t talk with me.
Thank You , u solved my problem and now i am feeling great n relaxed.