Have you had moments where you felt a tinge of loneliness lately? There didn’t seem anyone available to share in your joy, your challenge, your desire, your hope? The space around you seemed a little too empty?
Vancouver continues to be considered one of the loneliest places for people who want honest face to face relationships. The pressure to accomplish, to survive, to be significant can be overwhelming. Even if you’re proficient with social media – sometimes that flow of seconds between responses seems like an unbridgeable gap.
Most people have their eyes locked on a screen instead of locked on the eyes of another. The upcoming generation is considered the “connected generation” and yet they can sit side by side without even looking at each other. People have chirps, chimes, buzzes and tones streaming out of their pockets. These distractions keep them from getting to any depth with anyone they could be physically present with.
We’ve grown used to the delusion and deception that somehow the individual who is not here is more important than the one we are with – and the one left sitting alone while the other person leaves to talk is left to accept this reality. It’s a subtle message we don’t always realize we are delivering. This tension of always having to be available for someone else (where we say I have to take this) sucks at the margins we need to create healthy relationships.
Technology itself is no more evil than paper. It’s a tool for communication that can be used for good or harm. The issue of disconnecting from each other only accentuates our sense of loneliness.
Carey Nieuwhof, in his book Didn’t See It Coming (pp.71-71) sees that technology, as it is often used, has brought about the demise of genuine conversation and of confession. He says:
Great conversation is a beautiful art. It involves the exchange of ideas between two or more people who care enough about one another to listen as well as speak. Sadly, conversations seem to be devolving into an exchange of monologues among people who don’t seem terribly interested in one another. People today appear to be talking at one another more than they’re talking with one another. Next time you’re in a conversation with someone, wait to see how often you get asked a question. It might be as simple as “How are you doing, really?” or “That’s fascinating – can you tell me more?” Questions are the turning points for great conversation and intriguing connections with people.
Social media sometimes gets us focused on telling others what we are doing and our live verbal interactions follow suit to the point where we are simply exchanging chunks of information back and forth without the curiosity and communication we crave for in human relationship building.
Nieuwhof also notes that the loss of confession is also significant (he doesn’t mean Catholic). He says:
The type of confession I’m talking about has a much broader and far deeper meaning….Confession is a part of prayer and life where we come before God and one another to admit all that we aren’t: our shortcomings, our intentional sins, and myriad unintentional sins. When we confess our brokenness, we admit that we are not all we pretend to be, hope to be, or could be. We own up to the fact that we are a mess.
He continues: “We avoid confession because it requires us to look in the mirror. It demands revealing the real you that you don’t want anyone to see. This is the you God would love for you to bring to him, but you (and I) steadfastly refuse to surrender. The shift away from confession leaves most of us in a precarious state. Particularly younger adults, teens, and kids who were raised in a society that ignores sin.”
Something to think about. What keeps you disconnected from others? At Faith we are building a culture of grace where people can connect face to face. Through sacrificial hospitality, caring small groups, corporate worship and compassionate acceptance we trust that God is doing something special among us in a city that is filled with desperately lonely people. You can change all that by changing the focus from what is happening to you to focusing on what is happening to someone near you. It’s amazing what happens within you when you discover what is happening in someone else. For the health of us all, think of how you can engage another with questions and ask away. Whatever happens, remember that you are loved more than you can ask or imagine. Pastor Jack