Do you remember the days of visiting someone at home and spending hours in conversation? What about the days of writing a letter to someone that didn’t require you to be limited to “140 characters or less”? For those of us that grew up before the age of the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging, we can recall those days. But for so many, the text has replaced the voice of a friend or loved one and Facebook Messenger has replaced face-to-face conversation. Why is this a problem? Well, just have someone hide behind their smartphone and send you a text that says, “I’m fine”, when in reality the look on their face is full of sadness and pain. Behind the smartphone or tablet, we can’t see the hurts, concerns, and pains of others. Forbes reports that 7% of all communication is spoken or written language and 93% is body language (Forbes, 2012). In today’s world of emoji’s, OMG’s and BFF’s, we need to ask, “How do I really know what another person is going through when all I can see is a text screen?” Don’t get me wrong! I believe that technology and social media have extraordinary benefits and that today’s world provides wonderful opportunities for the spread of the Gospel. However, I also believe that we are lacking in so much of the personal, meaningful conversation that we once had.
In Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV, the Scripture says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This Scripture speaks of the importance of the gathering of Christians. Today, we as Americans typically gather together on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesdays. However, even this is coming under attack in our age due to the belief that we can “get the same thing from home by watching the preacher on TV”. This viewpoint is harmful to Christians in ways that we so often overlook. The question is: Why does Hebrews say that it is important that we gather together? The simple reasoning is: to stir up one another to love and good works. We are to gather together, whether it’s in one-on-one conversation in our homes or in a church setting, to encourage one another to grow in love and to grow in ministry. When we are able to sit and look into the face of someone we are communicating with, we are able to show multitudes more care and concern than through an electronic device. Simultaneously, when we choose to limit our communication to the one line text or the 140-character tweet, we are depriving ourselves of the mutual encouragement and love that comes from spending time with one another as Christians. When we choose to let the sermon on TV be our church service for the week, we are depriving ourselves of the encouragement and accountability that comes along with gathering with other believers. (I do want to throw in a disclaimer: It is completely understood that there are those that are unable to attend services due to disability.) The point is, we sincerely must evaluate our lives and discover whether we have allowed today’s technology to rob us of the beauty of personal communication.
So, ask yourself this question: Am I still allowing time in my life for the kind of communication with others that truly matters? Now, don’t go and throw your smartphone or tablet in the trash! Instead, try turning them off for 24-48 hours and spend some one-on-one time with someone that you can encourage in the Lord.
Tardanico, Susan. Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication? (30 April 2012). Forbes. Web. Accessed 2 March 2017. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susantardanico/2012/04/30/is-social-media-sabotaging-real-communication/#2ad297202b62