Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Never More Connected, Never More Lonely

I've been thinking a lot about loneliness lately. Not necessarily because I am lonely (at the moment), but because I know so many people who are. I started looking back over the conversations I've had this past week and figuring out how many of them were over some sort of technology. Facebook, cell phones, e-mail... the list goes on. As a culture we are more connected than ever, and yet we've never been so lonely. The more I study how God made us the more I am convinced that our substitutions for face to face contact are entirely inadequate. Don't get me wrong, I think that being able to connect with friends and family who you cannot see in person on a regular basis through technology is a fantastic thing. I love being able to keep in touch with my cousins and friends who have scattered all over the place. However, it is not enough. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert you were made for human relationship and touch. We need to look at the person's face we are talking to, we need to be able to hug and be hugged, we need to hear voices and see facial expressions.

Technology has given us so much but sometimes I wonder if it's worth what it has taken away. It seems that with each new invention the human race retreats further and further into their own living rooms. The invention of the washing machine meant no more chatting with neighbors while hanging out the laundry, the invention of the dishwasher eliminated time spent washing dishes together after meals (I'll be honest, this one I think might be worth it... man I hate washing dishes). The invention of the air conditioner meant people no longer had to sit on their front porches to cool off in the evening. The invention of the computer and the TV cut into family discussions and time spent actually interacting with one another. While all of these inventions are in and of themselves good things, because of our dependence on them we have lost the much better thing of human interaction and relationship.

The sheer volume of social networking sites on the internet should be screaming to us about our need for real relationships. No number of friends on facebook can replace one close friend that actually goes through life with you. The physical presence of people who love you is one of the greatest gifts in this world. This became very clear to me when my bestfriend lost her beloved father a few months ago. When words cannot express the compassion and sympathy you feel, sitting with them can.

I don't know if this resonates with anyone, but I suspect it does. We are constantly connected, yet feel completely alone. We are rarely ever more than a click of a button away from contacting a friend, yet it often takes too much effort to just go see them. I am so grateful for the friendships and family that God has blessed me with, and I am more and more grateful the more I realize the deep loneliness in this world. So, shut off the computer and go be with real people if you can. I'm going to :-)


Ben said...

What a beautiful post, Ellie. I entirely agree with you!

Heidi said...

I've noticed it while being here in Germany without a cell phone. At home, I'd just text my friends to decide when to meet up, or see who's around. But here, I have to actually walk upstairs to their room and knock on the door and have a real conversation. A little change, but it makes a big difference!
You write beautifully :-)
see you soon!!