Social media has widened the gap between reality and fantasy.
There’s always been a gap.
Don Quixote fancied himself a brave knight tilting at windmills long before Al Gore invented the internet. Fantasy is not new.
What’s new is that fantasy can be ever-present in your hand. The result is a split reality. While staring at a small electronic device in our hands, we argue with strangers, make our lives look amazing and shop for things we can’t afford.
Then we go to Ingles or the Rec Department or to work, and suddenly we’re having to relate to real people in the real world.
I recall one local lady who’s a friend on Facebook. We often liked each other’s posts. I liked one of hers right before I went to Ingles to shop one day. Then I thought I saw her inside the store. But I wasn’t sure. The truth was I didn’t know her that well. As she approached me, I looked away quickly because I wasn’t sure it was her. And I didn’t know what to say.
Ironically, the result of our culture’s full immersion into social media seems to be less socializing and more isolation than ever. Add in the COVID-19 shutdown and you have a recipe for — well, look around.
Anger. Fear. Mobs. Rioting. Protests.
A lot of people are afraid of where our country is headed. But perhaps the division and hatred also present an opportunity. Maybe some people are recognizing that living our lives through social media isn’t really working that well. Maybe some people are seeing from the COVID shutdown that living in isolation is no way to live.
During World War 2, many women had to go to work to make weapons of war. That meant many babies had to be left in nurseries. According to one of my favorite books, “Changes that Heal” by Dr. Henry Cloud, doctors studied those babies and made some profound observations. With a shortage of caretakers, not all the babies could be held and fed on a regular basis. The study showed, perhaps not surprisingly, that the infants who were held and nurtured did the best. Infants that weren’t held as much had more illnesses, more crying and more difficulty developing. Doctors even discovered a catastrophic disease called “failure to thrive”. If a baby isn’t held and nurtured, they eventually begin to wither and do not develop as they should.
The point is, in order to thrive, we human beings don’t need a new Tik Tok video or a lot of likes on Facebook. We need loving, real relationships.
Over the past few weeks, our family has discovered how powerful those relationships are. Our church family has loved us, prayed for us, fed our dogs, watched our home and sent messages of support and encouragement. None of it would have happened if we weren’t plugged into a local church. No amount of Zoom meetings and on-line worship services would have created such a loving community.
Forsyth and Monroe County is a small community. We are Mayberry. What a great opportunity we have to show the world what community looks like, and how people thrive. That comes from loving one another, telling each other the truth and encouraging one another.
Before he sinned in the Garden of Eden, Adam was perfect and sinless. He had no health problems. He had no money problems. He had God, and so he had everything he needed. Except one thing. God looked down and diagnosed the problem: “the Lord God said, ‘it is not good that the man should be alone.’”
We were made for relationship. Not on-line relationship. Real, messy, in the flesh relationship. Jesus could’ve sent an email. He could’ve posted a meme for us on Facebook. He could’ve texted. But he didn’t. Instead he came to this old, brutal earth in the flesh. He visited. He touched. He wept. He loved. And so should we.