“No man is an island.” – John Dunne, 1624
“I am an island.” – Paul Simon, 1966
Much has been written in recent years about the fact that technology, and in particular social media, has made us a less social species. Given the fact that I have around 200 “friends” on Facebook, whom I can interact with at the drop of a hat, surely my circle of influence has to be greater now than it would have been in, say, 1950. But what if I was able to compare my social life with that of an average man in 1950. We would compare his friends with my “friends.” First, he would probably have far fewer friends. Second, he would probably have deeper friendships than I do.
Never in the history of the world have we had such instant access and so many connections with so many people, and never before have our social connections been so shallow. Am I in relationship with all of my FB friends? It’s a tricky question. I probably know (or knew) most of them in real life. Can I impact their lives? Do they even want me to?
When our circle of influence is continually getting wider and shallower, sharing Jesus in impactful ways can get harder. I want to be ready to show Jesus to the depressed, anxious, and hopeless people that I know are among my 200 FB friends. The problem is that I don’t want to show the love of Jesus in shallow ways. Sharing an inspirational picto-quote just doesn’t cut it for me. How do we cultivate real relationships as they become less and less common?
I think it starts with exactly what Diego was talking about on Sunday. Jesus didn’t come seeking those who were already righteous (or self-righteous, perhaps). But I’m not talking about my FB friends who seem to have it all together. I’m talking about us. It seems like more often than not, we like to be connected to so many people because it makes us feel good about ourselves. We can have a connection, albeit as deep as a dinner plate, with a lot of people. We suppress our need for real relationships, because we have so many “friends”.
There are real actual people, not profile pics and wall posts, within our circle of influence who need real actual relationships. Twitter and Facebook are nice tools for connecting with people, but when it replaces relationships, we lose something. Relationships take effort. Being close enough to see that someone is hurting or seeking or ready to accept love means putting in the time to selflessly love them.
Social media is great for keeping in touch, but if you ever hear me suggesting a new pastorate that only meets on the internet, remind me that no man is an island.