I've been thinking about technology lately and its benefits and pitfalls. Technology has made it easier than ever before to keep in touch with the people we hold dear. It has made it possible to connect with like minded people all over the world. It has shrunk our world and expanded our access to information.
But with progress comes pitfalls. The industrial age also ushered in new technology and easier access to machinery that simplified the drudgery of household labor. With that positive came the negatives including child labor, pollution, and increased exposure to danger in the workplace. So to, our society has seen the benefits of progress along with the hazards.
I could talk about the internet, cell phones, computers, and a host of other advances but my biggest concern lies in the social network. I have noticed that people can keep up their appearances on Facebook easier than in person. I read a friend's post about her wonderful children only to have her say over the phone that she cannot wait to send them off to school because they were driving her crazy. I see posts about injury and illness and the replies of prayers and hope only to be left wondering if anybody has actually reached out to this person with a heartfelt sentiment and real help. Worse yet, simply click the "like" button and you feel as if you've acknowledged their suffering and done your job.
With 400 "friends" listed on Facebook, I can guarantee that there are only a handful that would really help me in times of trouble. These are obviously not all true friends but acquaintances. Does this blur the line for our young people? With children as young as 10 (that I know personally) sporting Facebook pages, do they understand the difference between friend and acquaintance? I know we used to chase after the myth that was popularity in high school and junior high. Does accepting any friend that comes along on Facebook instantly make you popular? What if those friends are dangerous and strangers?
Social networking has made us seemingly more connected and at the same time removed us from the community. We know what is going on at the Jones' or at least we think we do. How many people really post what their life is really like on their Facebook page? Status: I'm drinking to escape my life. Status: I'm cheating on my spouse. Status: I have this big fancy house that I cannot afford. Status: I am unemployed and drowning in debt. Status: I am hopeless but I just put a smile on my face. These are the things we miss about our friends and neighbors when we don't talk to them face to face. We cannot love others when we do not know what they need.
Disconnect today. Love your neighbor as yourself. Hug your friends in person. Take a meal rather than clicking "like". Reconnect with your community. Lift each other up in prayer rather than just saying you will. Send a handwritten note, smile a real smile, laugh in the company of your friends, and reconnect with our world.