Things must’ve been pretty weird, or maybe even simple, before the advent of facebook, twitter, or even the internet. Before any of that, there were just the people around your neighbourhood. There was the home TV instead of your personal computer, there was playing sports with friends instead of the Nintendo Wii console, there was cassette tapes, vinyl players and the like, instead of now Spotify, Youtube, mp3 files and iTunes. Before technology, life as we would think, was simpler. Maybe even boring to us, the life our parents and grandparents lived was one where friendships were much easier to form, and much harder to break.
Let me ask you this question- where do you spend the most time? What do you spend the most time in front of? And who do you spend the most time with? If you answered any of these questions with ‘the computer’, ‘in my room’, or ‘on facebook’; then welcome to most of the young people of this generation (maybe even including me). I must admit that while I do have my friendship circles (friends from church, university, and even some friends still since high school), I don’t think my definition of friendship, or even this generation’s definition of friendship, was, or even is, the same as friendships that were formed a generation ago.
Back in the 1960s/70s, the internet was just an idea, or maybe not even that. Now, no matter where you turn, facebook, youtube, the internet, laptops, music and everything else that is related to technology and communication is calling out at us. We have conversations with people around the world, sometimes about our personal feelings, yet I’m not even sure if we have a meaningful friendship with our neighbours next door or even across the street (I know I’m also a culprit here). To think that our lives and our relationships would mirror that of shows like Eureka, Hart of Dixie or One Tree Hill, where everyone knows everyone in the town because of the closeness and tight-knit community; is nothing short of ridiculous. Nevertheless, what does the future hold, both collectively and individually, for us in relation to our friendships with others, in a technological age begging for us to be introverts when I’m sure we were created for the exact opposite?
As long as there is going to be facebook, twitter, Spotify, youtube, and internet in general, communication and friendships have to be intentional. Sure, we may not necessarily know everyone’s name on the street that we live in (just like how I’m sure our parents knew everyone in their street…maybe) and that’s ok. And maybe we are super open to people we know via fb, but haven’t met in real life yet. And that’s also ok. Friendship, and the definition of it, because of technology, has changed from 10, 20 even 30 years ago. And that’s ok as well.
What this post is reminding us all about is that friendships, in whatever form they’re in, are powerful as we form connections to other real humans from various walks of life as we all share experiences and learn from each other. And what does the future hold for friendships in the age of technology? I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be a day where virtual reality exists, and we interact with people from around the globe via that than on our computers. Maybe we do in fact try to talk with our neighbours and strike up conversations. Or maybe we just follow wherever God calls us to be- and if he wants us to minister to the cyberworld, then we ought to persist and be cool with where God places us, even if we think we should be somewhere else.
The future of friendships is as unknown as the future of technology. But one thing is for certain- God made us to be in community with each other, and whether it means chatting to our neighbours, or our friends across the seas, is pretty much irrelevant. As we were made in God’s image, and because God is the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), we too ought to be in community with one another. Friendships and relationships are at the core of us, more so than the things we amass and the achievements and adulation we attain. As spoken famously by John Donne, an English poet, no man is an island. Regardless of where the future takes us in relation to how we interact with each other, the crux of the matter is that we in fact do.
How is your relationships with your neighbours, friends, co-workers and facebook friends? Has any of your friends encouraged you this last week in something you weren’t expecting encouragement in?
Til next time, here below is the music video of Tenth Avenue North’s new song, ‘No Man is An Island’. I reckon the song speaks volumes about the topic in this post, don’t you?