Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Boring: Relationships & Social Media

"The trend [ease of communication and rise of Social Media] tells us that our human relationships are spreading wider as opposed to deeper." (Pg. 76)

Friends and Followers

This is a unique problem for this millenium. We have an incredible ability to connect, at a certain level, with hordes of people via social media as "friends" or "followers." But the problem with this ability has to do with that level of connection: it is superficial.

This is a well documented issue. Consider the problems highlighted in the following video:

Here were some of the main points that hit me in this video:
  • We're sacrificing conversation for connection.
  • We're expecting more from technology and less from each other.
  • We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone.
  • If we are not able to be alone, we're only going to know how to be lonely.
Therefore, when a huge digital list of friends fails to prevent loneliness, we spiral into progressively deeper states of depression. And if you did not know, depression is a bit of a big deal...

Depression statistics infographic

Of course, Kelley's argument in the book is not that we need more friendships. He certainly is not railing against technology or social media. What he says is that we need to cultivate and cherish the friendships we currently have. We need to treat people with the respect we desire from them. Instead of heeding the call for a wider sphere of influence, we should be more concerned with a deeper sphere of influence.

This is something I personally struggle with as the author of a blog. (The one you are reading... I'm almost sure of it!) I want it to succeed, and I have seen an uptick in following. I want to see more engagement. I want to see my influence spread. But I should be more focused on content. I should create content that is sincere and honest and devoted to Christ. That will please him. If it pleases him, then it may please him to spread my influence. Yet, there is the possibility that it will not please him to spread my influence wider. I need to be OK with that.

We need to cherish our offline relationships a lot more than we do. Over the past few years I have made several friends on Twitter. It is very interesting to meet them offline. Everyone looks like a social butterfly online (except me, perhaps). But things change offline. Some people are the same online and offline, they are real. Others are clearly fakes and that is an awkward experience.

Let's buck the trend and focus more on our offline relationships than our online personas. Real connections are the only ones that matter anyway.
"Perhaps that lack of depth in relationships is why we treat our associations so casually. We trade relationships like baseball cards. When one isn't exciting or fulfilling enough to us, we cash it in and move on, whether that's in marriage, in membership to a church, or even in a run-of-the-mill friendship... Our relationships are meant for more. And the 'more' is meant to be found not in more exciting relationships, but right in the middle of the everyday ones we already have." (Pg. 77)
Michael Kelley
Boring: Finding an extraordinary God in an ordinary life

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