“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The boom in social media has connected the world in ways no one could have imagined a generation ago. Now we have the ability, at the touch of a screen, to connect with anyone at any time from anywhere. Yet, with all the modern conveniences, there are pitfalls.
Yes, technology and social media help us connect, but we must be careful. As digital connectivity continues to expand, we are in danger of expecting more from technology and less from each other.
The challenge is that social media can give us the illusion of companionship, but without the demands of true friendship. As one commentator has observed regarding digital connections, “People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere. People want to control exactly the amount of attention they give others, not too much, not too little.”
It is helpful to distinguish a primary connection from a secondary connection. A text, tweet, TikTok, Snapchat, IG post, or email is a secondary connection. A face-to-face conversation is a primary connection. In the digital age, we are becoming increasingly skilled at secondary connections, and increasingly less skilled at primary connections.
We too often text each other when what we need to do is talk with each other. We have many online connections when what we really need are more face-to-face conversations. We tweet and retweet, follow and unfollow, friend and unfriend … but are we doing the hard work of building real relationships?
I am afraid we are in danger of sacrificing the personal for the technical.
Human relationships are incredibly rich, but they’re also messy and demanding, and many people try to avoid the messiness via technology. That’s a mistake. The discomfort that is a necessary part of true friendship is a blessing. The comfort that comes with pseudo-connections is deceiving and dangerous.
Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 27.6: “Better the wounds of a friend than the kiss of an enemy.”
We are in desperate need of real relationships, and the disciplined interpersonal skill that creates and sustains those relationships.