We recently had the privilege of spending some time with a group of young adults from our area. What was the ultimate goal of such a gathering you might be thinking? Simply put…a place where they could have some honest conversation. So, as the sun began to set that warm evening and we all crowded around our fire pit comfortably arrayed in our Adirondack chairs, conversation gave way to vulnerability and transparency.
After about an hour of great discussion that centered around their excitement about being able to get together in this setting and the acknowledgement that they often feel alone with the awkward pang of rejection and confusion that trying to navigate such an important transitional time in their life can bring, a question arose out of the natural rhythm of communication that made a very deep impression on our hearts.
What is the hardest thing you face on a daily basis?
The question just lingered for a moment as if everyone was letting it resonate deep down inside. There was a brief pause then answers came flooding out as if they’d been pent up for much too long…
“Everything is face value and one dimensional, which makes it really hard to know what is really going on in people’s lives.”
“We know a bunch of people on social media, but our relationships are often shallow.”
“It’s like everyday all I see from people’s posts is that they are living this perfect life and it makes me feel depressed about mine.”
“There’s a lot of information but I still feel alone.”
The common denominator was the effect that social media was having on their interpersonal relationships. Granted, none of them were ready or willing to throw their smartphones into our pool as a show of solidarity, but it was interesting to watch them realize that they all felt the same struggle regularly and acknowledgement of their part in it. For a few brief moments we all sort of grinned at each other in agreement regarding this daunting outside influence that was damaging the very thing we were there to create.
It’s interesting to contemplate that of all the difficulties facing these young adults; of all the stressors and hurdles they’re up against on a daily basis, they unanimously chose the influence of social media as their greatest challenge. We suppose if you re-worded the question to, "what is the thing you spend the most time doing on a daily basis,” they might actually have given the same exact answer.
It’s for this reason that all of us, at any age, must realize the love/hate relationship we have with the inch-thick façade of looking into people’s windows as if we are observing a department store display at the mall. We’re not of course saying that social media is inherently bad, but it is worth the pause to ask the hard questions regarding what it might be doing to the next generation in terms of how they feel about themselves and others in the world around them as well as how they relate in honest and healthy ongoing relationships. What will this mean for marriages and families in the future?
For those of us who have lived any life without the constant pull of media interwoven into our daily and even moment-by-moment existence, it is not out of the question to envision ourselves living in a world without it. It’s easier for us to draw a line between real relationship and the semi façade that media creates; this subtle yet important line between information and the potential for legitimate face-to-face transformation. In contrast, those who have grown up knowing only of this means of communication have a difficult time navigating that fine line. So it’s safe to say that a small group hanging out in our backyard around a fire pit talking about real life unplugged is actually counter cultural.
We leave you with this question.
How is the use of social media helping or hurting your personal relationships and those who are following behind you?
It’s something to think about…
If you'd like to join the discussion regarding media misuse and the impact of explicit material upon relationships and society, check out THE NOVUS PROJECT.