I am finally learning to communicate through text messages on my cell phone. Wouldn't you know it, a teenager showed me how.
Text messaging provides a whole new medium for communication. I am occasionally in places where I cannot make a call, but now have the option to text. Since most people in my life are also texters, I now have the ability to communicate with them at times and in places where I would have been unable to before.
I feel better connected.
Text messages keep me in touch with my world today. FaceBook connectes me with the world of my past. Through FaceBook I have found friends that I have not heard from in fifteen years or more. Highschool friends, college buddies, ministry colleagues; I am back in touch with dozens of people who have been part of my life.
I feel better connected.
Despite the advances of the last few years, I continually cling to means of connection that have served me well all along. I still check and send e-mail. In fact, for the parents and adults involved in my work, this is one of my best tools for communication.
I have been connected for some time, you see. Now, I am simply better connected.
Or am I?
The other day I found myself in two different text messaging conversations, one right after the other. I had nothing else to do at the time. I was free for conversation, they were too. It would have been great to hear their voices. We spoke only by thumb and keypad.
Both of these friends were from days gone by - people I used to talk with face to face. Back in those days each of these friends had confessed to me their struggles, their sins, their pain. I know them, you see. I know their stories, their past.
Who wants to be reminded of their past?
It is precisely because I know them that our conversation never went deeper than the local weather. Any of us could have dialed our phones and engaged in genuine conversation. We did not. That could have been hard. That may have truned awkward. Better simply to text.
Am I, in reality, becoming disconnected?
I read a friend's post on FaceBook today. A note bemoaning the silence she perceives from all the stagnant faces on her friends list. She herself had written notes, posted messages. She received little in return.
I know the feeling.
FaceBook connects us with almost anyone we could imagine. We can write on walls and send messages to people all over the globe. How rarely they respond. How rarely those conversations go much deeper than our texts, and all for the same reason.
If I don't like what you have to say, I can delete your message. If I don't want to answer your question, I choose to simply ignore your text. This phenomenon is not entirely new - how many years have you ignored or deleted unwanted e-mails?
Are we all becoming disconnected?
Could that really be true? In an age when we are more connected than we have ever been?
It is time we engage people face to face, voice to voice. We need to look into one another's eyes and share our full range of emotion. I need to see your smile as I talk about that funny thing my kid did the other day. I need to sense your compassion as I share with you my deepest fears. I need you to ask me hard questions. You need me to ask those same questions in return. We desperately need to see each other cry.
We have to learn together how to work through conflict. Yes, work through conflict - not simply delete that unwanted message or avoid that uncomfortable text.
We need to be mentored. We need to live and breathe alongside others who are older and wiser than ourselves.
We must practice accountability. We will never bear one another's burdens if we refuse to share them in the first place. Such conversations do not take place via instant messenger.
Discipleship. Accountability. Celebration. All but impossible to acheive in a world that begins and ends with text messages. To be sure, the technology of today allows us all more extensive relations. Proceed with caution: the price we may pay is deeper relationships.