This past weekend the “Hills Alive” Festival was held once again in Rapid City, SD, with many people attending. “Hills Alive” is a free summer music festival. This year artists included, but weren’t limited to, Abandon, Audio Adrenaline, Building 429, Jeremy Camp, Selah, and We Are Leo. My husband and I attended the festival with friends a couple of times during the weekend. We enjoyed the last concert of the festival, which was getting to hear Jeremy Camp perform. He did an excellent job. He shared several different stories throughout his performance and one comment he made caught my attention. He talked about social networking, and while it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it causes an emotional disconnect in our relationships with others. I have been struggling for quite a few weeks now with the whole Facebook and Twitter experience.
While reading status updates from friends and family on Facebook and Twitter is fun and keeps me somewhat up to date on what is happening in their lives, it’s only a surface connection being made. Some stories are entertaining, but we aren’t really connecting on an emotional level with one another. Additionally, many, including myself, have taken to discussing politics and religion to the point of ad nauseam. If we were to sit down for coffee or dinner with our friends and family, we most likely would connect on a deeper level with them. Discussions of politics and religion would only be one topic we may hit upon. Getting to visit face-to-face allows for questions to be asked to clarify statements or to understand one another’s story better. We would dig deeper for information before given random advice, or making harsh judgmental statements.
In my own personal experience, making phone calls or inviting a friend to coffee or lunch has been easily shoved aside in favor of getting more errands or house chores done because of being able to go and type a status update. I tend to think, “Well, I typed a status update. My friends and family will see it, so I don’t need to call and talk to them about it.” It’s a faster mode of communication, but it creates emotional distance due to the absence of physical contact. We miss out on the tone and facial expressions of one another. Some stories just aren’t as funny when shared in a status update.
Connections are made with people whom we know quite well, and with others who we only know from their name. It would be impossible to personally connect with everyone on our friend list; however, it sometimes seems as though we are more closely connected with people than we really are. Strangers dive into our lives offering advice, opinions, and criticism without knowing us, or the full story behind the status update. Other times, one makes a status update to receive no “likes” or “comments” only to have people, who are not on their friend’s list, from church or work comment several days later. A reminder: “That which feels private, really isn’t private.”
Another area of concern is the job hunt. Job-hunting is another area of consideration when it comes to engaging in social networking. Many human resource departments have taken to checking out potential candidate’s Facebook feeds and tweets, in addition, to looking at their LinkedIn profiles. Some of the brightest and most qualified candidates have been turned down for excellent employment opportunities due to the tweet or comment on social networking site. One cannot be too cautious these days.
However, my husband’s use of social networking opened the doors to his obtaining his latest job along his career path, which may turn out to be the job where he eventually retires.
On a positive note, I have connected with past, current, and new friends that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to connect. It’s much easier to post a photo or status update once for all my friends and family to see and read than to send out multiple emails to everyone. Status updates are ‘real time’ information; whereas, emails or letters are usually a few days, or even weeks, later.
Overall, Jeremy’s comment to take time to connect face-to-face with friends and family was an excellent reminder. Getting together with friends and family to share food, laughter, joys, disappointments, prayers, and encouragement is an intrinsic part of how the Lord created us. We need to take time for fellowship amid our status updates and tweets.