If you are reading this post you must be either at your computer or on your cell phone. It seems like everything has some type of keyboard now. It may be a touch pad keyboard, or a push button keyboard, or a voice activated keyboard, but we are all tied to one in some form or fashion.
Now, take a moment, reach down, and touch your keyboard. Go on, really touch it! Grab it, and give it a great big hug! Look at it and say ‘Hi, keyboard. Are you having a good day?’ Hopefully nobody was watching you, but never mind. Did your keyboard hug you back? Did you feel anything even close to warmth coming from it. Did the old keyboard tell you it was doing fine and then ask how you were doing? Didn’t think so.
Internet statistics tell us that people under 30 reported that they are connected to each other and the world more than any other age group. They also reported that 70% of them felt lonely. That number was astonishing to me, but it also confirmed my gut instinct: the warmth of human relationships doesn’t come via remotely reaching out and touching someone. It doesn’t even come from videos or SKYPE.
The warmth from a human relationship comes from the touch and smile and laugh from someone close up and personal to you. T.S. Elliot made an astute observation some years ago, “The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.” Today, we are way past the television stage.
Facebook, email, SKYPE, Twitter, text messaging, and other social networking tools have their place, and I am not saying they are bad. But up close and personal contact with people has its place, also. There needs to be a balance, and I am afraid so many of our younger people do not have any balance.
Have you ever been to a social function where the older people are all talking, laughing, and joking with each other? Sure you have. Next time, look around at the number of younger people with their cell phones out texting. How many times have you tried to engage someone in a conversation, and they are constantly interrupting the discussion while they ‘check’ an incoming message or phone call?
I have delivered Meals On Wheels; there are some absolutely wonderful people on the route. Many of these people are dying for someone to hug them, or touch their arm, or shake their hand, or laugh and smile with them. I asked one person if they got to see their grandchildren often. Her reply was rather sobering, “He comes by sometimes but plays with his phone the whole time he is here.”
God designed us to live in close fellowship with him and with those around us. Christian fellowship helps to develop a feeling of belonging, of trusting, of hope. It also helps us with patience, selflessness, and unconditional love. Actors talk about the entirely different experience between working in from of a live audience versus working in front of a camera.
It’s all about balance. Right now I am going to check my balance; am I doing too much in the virtual world and not enough in the real world? I don’t know, but I am going to pay better attention to the people around me. Are you lonely? Maybe you should check your balance, too?