On Loneliness and Social Media

Hard-hitting but brilliantly executed truths about connectedness.

Why Society is Schizophrenic and How it Affects You

Guinness - Wheelchair Basketball

Society often works hard at promoting an image that stuff is all that matters. They tell us that we will be “better” if we buy, use, consume, drive, wear, etc. their products. (Nevermind the fact that they always stand to gain financially and otherwise if we do as they say…you know the drill.) “Better” usually means something along the lines of sexier, faster, cooler, smarter, more clever, wittier, trendier, ahead of our peers, or some other self-satisfying result. Sometimes companies pursue these goals with outright abandonment as if advertising in this manner will satisfy their own cravings for approval and acceptance. Other times seem to stumble into a truth that resonates with humanity in an enduring way. It’s a Jekyll & Hyde-type scenario that shows how our society is schizophrenic. But don’t be too quick to point the finger at society because we are ALL part of it and we often display the same type of wishy-washiness (Is that a word?) in our behavior.

I have noticed more and more that our society is longing for more than the veneer of self-satisfaction. People want to make a difference and have lasting relationships. Companies that figure this out sooner rather than later will stand to gain from this, not because it is the latest trend, but because it is an enduring truth that resonates with humanity as a whole. People want to love and be loved. And people want to belong, be part of, and contribute to things that matter.

The other day I tweeted a quote from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe which said “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone shows his image.” My hashtag was “#charactermatters”. I believe this to be true. Our decisions over an extended period of time show others what matters to us. It shows what we really believe rather than just what we say we believe or even think we believe. Our character and values reveal themselves through our behavior over the course of time.

I love it when society gets is right and sees the enduring truths and promotes them. It’s as if society is starting to discover this truth again that character matters. This article and embedded video explain that dichotomy and celebrate the victory that a beer maker latched onto. Sure they stand to gain from this advertisement, but it rings true and resonates with the core of our very beings. [And for full disclosure, I do enjoy a Guiness every now and then. :)]

Guinness - Wheelchair Basketball

Guinness – Wheelchair Basketball

What do you see in society that is confused or schizophrenic? Is it not wise to filter through what we consume and the accompanying message to figure out if it is worthwhile and reflective of our values? How can people who believe that character matters better stand behind companies that promote society-building values in a way that doesn’t alienate others for making different choices? Would it not be smart to not only act in accordance with our beliefs, but also support companies that at least have caught a glimmer of these truths?  Enjoy the article and video and please share your thoughts.

Business Insider

Guinness Ad Breaks the Mold

An excellent and beautiful picture of God alive and at work through marriage.

Should church be this formulaic?  Maybe not, but this is good comic relief!

Artificial Community

Social medias (most especially Facebook) foster an artificial intimacy that does not promote community, but actually hinders true community.  There are breakdowns in communication because of the absence of true human interaction. There you have it…my premise for this blog. Now read it and see if you agree or disagree.

The dictionary defines communication as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.” I would submit that communication is the process of relaying information from one human being to another using both verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication, often called body language, includes: facial expressions, gestures, gaze, posture, etc. Verbal communication includes: the interpretation of the words communicated, inflection, tone, meter (speed), voice quality, emotion, speaking style, and several other aspects.

Community does not happen without intimacy. Intimacy does not happen without communication. We all want to be loved and have lots of friends, but I am afraid that “social networking sites” that attempt to promote community and friendship actually serve to deteriorate the very thing that it attempts to build up. When communicating on Twitter you miss out on the human interaction because you are interacting with a lifeless machine that relays letters, numbers, symbols, and now pictures and songs to another lifeless machine that allows another person to interpret those letters and the like. Human beings need 12 points of meaningful contact everyday.  Your iPhone will never be able to add that as an “application.”

One of the biggest roadblocks to this kind of correspondence is that these two people often do not experience this artificial communication at the same time. One person types it one evening and the second person reads it the following evening. Attempts at communicating via social networking sites are missing ALL of the aspects of non-verbal communication and most of the verbal aspects as well.

Texting may serve as an easy way to shoot out a reminder or ask a quick question, but true communication relies on face-to-face interaction. It is amazing how much bolder people are when “hiding behind” a computer screen. Words are easier to type than to say in person (by the way, I’d be glad to give you my thoughts on this topic in person.) :)  By typing a blog post or composing a long message, you have a chance to say everything you want before even giving the other person a chance!  Comments and messages are used to “test the waters” of a relationship…see what barriers of relationship are “out of bounds.” Men – be man enough to say things in person rather than on Facebook and be the leader in a relationship. Ladies – force, or rather, encourage the guys to communicate with you the hard way (in person). Make them earn your attention and time. Don’t give it to them so easily via an artificial mechanism that will not help you get what you truly desire out of a relationship.

Then there is the aspect of privacy. There is something to be said about keeping things private – between the people that it affects.  You’ve probably heard your parents or peers tell you a million times that once something’s on the Internet, it’s there forever–don’t even pretend you can get away with a quick “delete”.  It’s true!  Once your words are submitted to a message board or social networking site, they are there to be referenced, remembered, and regrettable forever.  They become a weapon that we as humans have never had before.

Now that you have read this you might think that I believe that these websites should fade into oblivion or be wiped off the face of the planet. On the contrary, I think they can be a fun way to let people know that you’re thinking of them, pass information along, encourage a friend, and generally communicate with written word. However, these forms (which are essentially modern version of the letter…oh, wait, many of you have no idea what those are…it’s the modern version of email!) should not be a substitute for true communication and human interaction which lead to true community. We all long to be a part of a community. We all need that time together in the flesh: to look our brothers and sisters in the eyes and get real. That is the only path to true community.

Hope: a poem

Hope, a future expectation

Can anyone have it – tribe, tongue, or nation?

Reserved for those who are the Lord’s

The reason for we should not hoard

 

I’ve got to get it off my chest

People are filled with mess and hopelessness

Can I sell this desire deep within?

No, it’s free along with forgiveness of sin

 

My hope is for what is promised

Not luck or fate for this surety brings bliss

My future and last things when time ceases

Will be good when God puts together the pieces

 

Idle with despair as so many are

Confidence, comfort, and assurance seem so far

Is He powerful enough to deliver?

I guess it takes a trust and personal surrender

 

Not trusting in anything or anyone

Less than the one and true living Son

Looking to the day His One He will send

Out of love and faith we serve looking to the end!

 

Proud to be an American?

4th of JulyIt’s on days like this that I can feel the tension. I love my country. I am a red-blooded American who has studied the history, sings the songs, and loves the fireworks. I have enjoyed many traditions on the 4th that I would love to pass along to my kids…watermelon, hot dogs, the whole works. But also inside of me is this increasing tension between who I am and where I live.

Above being an American, I am a Christian, a believer in what the Bible tells me so. That is where my true allegiance lies. I don’t not pledge allegiance to the United States of America (yes, I just used a double negative to the horror of my wife!), but I have a higher allegiance to a Kingdom that will far outlast this democratic republic.

As I went through my day to a city parade, playing in the park, a trip to the grocery store, and fireworks to top it all off, I saw most people wearing the red, white and blue. They proudly wore the colors of our flag and displayed their pride in our freedoms, culture, and heritage. Maybe I am judging here, but it seems to me that some of these people find their identity more in being American than anything else. I don’t want that to be the story of my life. Our country is great, but the ‘ol grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be (as the saying goes!) Our culture is not special in the grand scheme of things. If I’m being cynical (which I’ve been known to do) then when I think of our country, I think more of taxes, partisan politics, unnecessary wars, and special interest groups more than anything else. Our freedoms are waning in this country and we are like the boiled frog who didn’t even realize it was happening! I find myself less and less enamored with our political system and more and more longing for something better than this. But even more than that…I feel the tension between being a proud American and a citizen of the Kingdom.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have begun to ponder more and more questions like these: Can we love God and country? Where is the line that we cross when we marry the two? How can I continue to be a responsible citizen while not giving misplaced praise to it? Is it possible that, at times, we idolize our country?

Does God bless America? Certainly and I continue to seek his leading for how He can use me in my culture to be a blessing to my people. I also desire to see the peace and prosperity that we have long enjoyed continue for years to come. All in all, I am very thankful that I live in the good ‘ol U.S. of A., but make no mistake about it…I want to be more proud to be a Christian than an American.

‘No’ is Necessary

No is necessary in a lot of areas in life. Without it we will be left with excess, lack of control, hurt, an entitlement mentality, and a trending towards complexity.

No is necessary in parenting. Without it children would end up spoiled and unruly.
No is necessary in food. Without it we would end up gluttonous and indulgent.
No is necessary in driving. Without it we would end up reckless and in wrecks.
No is necessary in budgets. Without it we would end up with deficits and debt.
No is necessary is relationships. Without it we would end up with domination and degradation.
No is necessary in church. Without it we would end up with complexity and chaos.

Lately I’ve been reading the book Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. This book sparked my thinking in how much ‘no’ is necessary in the church, but also in multiple areas in life. In it I was also reminded of the high calling of making disciples in the church. Just as we don’t naturally drift towards physical fitness, the church does not drift towards healthy discipleship. In fact, the opposite is quite true. The longer a church exists, the more inward it becomes in its focus and the less impact it has outwardly. (This is necessary just to maintain the ‘system’, but a myriad of other reasons exist also!) ‘No’ is necessary to maintain the focus. As Martin Luther said, “Religion is the deep default of the human heart.” The very heart of religion is complexity and regulation in order to maintain the order within a religion. There is an increase in hierarchy and status associated with religion along with a corresponding decrease in impact and mission. The church’s mission is too important to neglect and too important not to be strategic and intentional. ‘No’ is also necessary in the church.

No is necessary! Use but don’t abuse. Say ‘Yes’ when possible; enjoy the freedom where applicable! But hold the standard, stand at the gate, maintain the confidence, stay simple and say ‘No’ when necessary!

Review of Driscoll’s Real Marriage

I have not read this book, but I like some of Driscoll’s teachings on leadership and theology. However, a buddy of mine warned me about some of Driscoll’s teachings in areas relating to marriage, sex, and purity. In researching it I ran across a very helpful review of the book by a seminary friend of mine that is spot on and really helpful! Thanks Denny! I thought it would be helpful to anyone who is considering this book. I also think there are some folks who are prone to listen to Driscoll without questioning what he teaches. This can serve as a reminder to always go back to the Scriptures as our final authority for faith and practice!

 

WARNING: reader discretion is advised! This book and review are appropriate for a mature audience. 17+ is recommended for this one! Chapter 10, as you will read, is quite explicit and intended for married/mature audiences only.

 

Review-of-Real-Marriage

Connectivity and Community

Facebook, Twitter, blogs (how ironic, right?), surfing the web, texting, and the like…all good tools. But they can also have unintended consequences. We can become a tribe of individuals, feel empathy at a distance, experience intimate anonymity, and create a false sense of community.

While being connected as friends or followers to many, we run the risk of increasing our disconnectedness to true community. There is a correlative effect of our reliance on social media tools and our potential isolation from community. The more we know some about many, the less we will know a lot about a few. This connectivity we experience through social media is a step removed from true, intimate community. It is a false connectivity that leads many to believe that community is not all it is cracked up to be.

True community is so much more than digital connectedness. Following and befriending online is helpful for maintaining acquaintances and keeping up with some details of long, lost friends, but it falls short or true community. Community is meant to be a source of strength in trials. It is meant to be a resource for problem-solving, and a shoulder through pain. It is also meant to be an echo of resounding joy, a safe place, comfortable and familiar surroundings, and an intimate authenticity with others.

We must develop a conscious awareness of these tools’ power, our true desires, and the ways in which they shape our faith, our communities, and even us. Then we must employ habits and practices that reflect a healthy relationship with these tools otherwise they have the potential to drive us where we don’t want to be. We need tangible connectivity in order to experience true community. We all probably need a bit more true community and a little less digital connectivity.

Further, we know ‘about’ people, but we don’t ‘know’ people. We feel bad for situations we read about across the globe or even across our streets, but don’t do much, if anything, about them. We wander around the web contributing to “discussions” while never actually knowing anyone we speak to and think we “know them” when we actually are very alone. We lack the face to face interaction that are vital to connectedness in relationships. This subtly deteriorates the fabric of social interaction in which human touch and interaction is necessary. Doing the same things that you would normally do in person, through a machine will not cut it.

These social networking tools remove us from the human element while purporting to provide us with better access to relationships and advertise themselves as an enhancement to these relationships. On some levels they are actually destroying the very thing they are trying to enhance.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

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