Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Connection

“Being unwanted,
unloved,
uncared for,
forgotten by everybody,
I think that is a much greater hunger,
a much greater poverty
than the person who has nothing to eat…
We must find each other.”

~Mother Teresa~
People in our country are starving, not physically, from lack of food, but relationally from lack of connection. I was surprised to see the commercial on a local television station promoting a new series on their nightly news. Each Wednesday night they plan to do a feature on the news anchor's new baby. I saw pictures of the lad and he's darling and his mother seems nice enough, but why is the news anchor's baby news?

I suppose seeing a smiling tyke may be a nice break from the awful reality surrounding us, but I think it's about more than that. People aren't connecting normally anymore. They're culling interest in one another via the media, through characters on t.v., Facebook, e-mails and the like. Before you point it out, let me say I recognize the irony in talking about this on a blog, one of the main contributors to the phenomena. I can understand the appeal of our new forms of communication. Requiring little time investment, using technology is very efficient and pretty safe. We don't have to see a look of disappointment or sit through awkward pauses or even explain ourselves too much. But is something lost in that? Are we missing out on true connectedness? In avoiding actual physical contact are we losing our ability to relate to one another?

I've met lots of neat people through blogging. I'd go so far as to call them friends. We have things in common and/or challenge each other's thinking. I have learned from them, but I'm not sure if they qualify as real relationships. I have never met them and certainly don't invest much time. I pray for and sincerely care about them, but is that really being there for them?

I know much can be gained through these...shall we call them virtual relationships? I formed one of my best friendships through e-mail correspondence, but we also spent many hours talking on my back porch apart from our musing about life online. Could deep connection have happened without physical interaction?

Is this lack of connectedness merely a casualty of our time? Is this where society is now? Am I feeling nostalgic for the "good ole days?" Or could it be our souls aren't finding the intimacy we long for, so we settle for what we can get? Do we have trouble finding connection because we are all out of the habit? Are we perpetuating a very bad cycle? Maybe we've been hurt too bad in the past to risk it again and use technology to protect ourselves. But what is lost as a result? Are we sacrificing possible meaningful relationships to stay safe?

I don't have any answers, but I worry about us. Will women my age get together for coffee in their golden years or will the physical relationships no longer exist? Perhaps I'm oversimplifying things and not appreciating the emotional connections formed through advances in technology, but I can't get over the vast difference a face to face meeting produces. Communication of any kind is good and edifying, but real live people are the ones who hug you when you lose a loved one. It was the people I interact with on a weekly basis that came to my rescue getting my house ready for graduation after my unexpected surgery. It takes people who are here in my corner of the world to watch my kids or accompany me to a movie. I hate to diminish the quality of virtual relationships because I know mine have impacted my life for the better, lifting many a dreary day and encouraging me greatly, but they cannot replace actual people.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I'm very interested in your impressions about connection. I don't believe I'm alone in thinking it is a real problem for people. Leave a comment and let's at least start a virtual relationship today, okay?


Visit Amy for more ideas about this quote. (In an odd twist of virtual fate, she happens to be the woman who designed my blog. Crazy, huh?)


11 comments:

Denise said...

Let me add a great big amen sister to this wonderful, very true post.

Brenda said...

Really good stuff Tami. I think for me it is an easy way to find people with common interests or similar lives and share what we know. It is a great point to not let it replace face to face relationshipsl

Susan said...

Hey Tami,

Oh, do I ever echo your sentiments!! You said so many things that hit home, really hard.

Yes, I am grateful for these virtual relationships, (especially yours!!), but what I would not give to be sitting over a cup of coffee, live and in person.

I do disire those interactions and dream of the day I can met you and some other very special people I've met online.

However...

The Lord has me in a very different season of my life now. Still new to this area I long for some real fellowship!

Right now He's drawing me closer to HIM. So, I'm thankful at least for what I have. I'm especially grateful to hear from my son across the world via internet.

But NOTHING can take the place of hearing his voice and I'm missing him a whole lot.

OK, sorry for rambling on.

Thanks once again for such a thought provoking post.

Blessings my friend♥

Irish Coffeehouse said...

Great post with many truths to it.

I can't help but wonder though if these virtual relationships actually help as we envision the most perfect and compassionate hug from a friend, or the most powerful and loving prayer our ears could ever hear as they pray for us. Who knows? But yes, nothing will ever really replace the phsyical aspects of seeing, feeling and hearing love in action.

Karen said...

You hear people hope to get a live person on the line instead of a recording, may we never take our connections with one another to that extreme.

MiPa said...

Amen and amen!

Laurie Ann said...

Virtual relationships can be the start of true relationships. In one group I was in years ago, we used to get together once a year at a friends house for a reunion. We saw each other and throughout the year those of us who lived closer to each other than most would get together. I have friends at work and lots of family, but I long for fellowship, too. We left our church 2 years ago, just stopped going, and no one has called or even sent a postcard. The body of Christ lost it's arms and legs, I suppose. I'm learning more to lean on Christ and enjoy the virtual relationships with fellow bloggers and a yahoo group I'm in. It works for me. No, they can't replace actual people, but they can at least fill the hunger. I pray that as I seek to establish actual relationships in a new church we are beginning, that I will make friends for a lifetime.

Emiley said...

My hubby does on-line fantasy sports and he has made some great "friendships" there. When Amanda was born we even got a baby gift from one of them, and then several years later we found out he had died and it was like we had lost a true friend....sort of. He has another friend who is Jewish and they have some great talks about their faith. I agree that it just cannot be the same and could never replace a real hug, but I'm thankful that it is a tool that keeps me conntected to my far-away friends.....like you! :-)

Christine said...

I read an article last year about this very thing- loneliness, partially induced by the cyber age. I would counter that some of my online friends understand me at my spiritual core better than my IRL friends, not for lack of me trying to find spiritual relationships here, but because it's difficult to do so when you work in the church and can't be completely vulnerable. You've said a lot of good things here!

And thanks for your comments about the dinner thing. Definitely a great idea as my kids get older. The older two are capable now, I think!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Tami, I'm with you in this question. I think I've stepped back a bit in blogging because it was taking away from "real" people time (that sounds bad, because I realize bloggy friends are real people too, but God put people in close proximity to me for a reason, right?) Just confirming that I don't have the answers either, but we have to be intentional about developing TRUE relationships, whether in person or on the internet.

Jennifer F. said...

I just discovered your blog through Rachelle Gardner, and am so glad I did! This is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I think that the social isolation we all face is a much bigger issue than we recognize.

If you have any interest, there was a fascinating discussion about this over at my site in response to this post about how blogs have become the modern village water well, and this post about how we can build communities in real life. I think you'll really enjoy looking through the comments there. People had such interesting things to say!

Anyway, thanks again for addressing this issue. It was so refreshing to read your post! I'll definitely be back. Nice to "meet" you. :)