This thought-provoking piece, written by my friend Rick Wilcox, appeared originally on his Literary Life blog. I am reprinting it with his permission, and I hope you'll head over there and read other posts he has written. I find them both intellectually and spiritually nourishing. Rick is a greatly appreciated Heartspoken Connection Messenger.*
As a serious student of Connection, I am constantly reminded of the irony that while technology, in the form of social media, has offered the opportunity for connection to a degree unprecedented in human history, I wonder what is the cost in terms of true connection—the kind of connection cultivated by time spent together, letters written, and dreams shared.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
I can use my iPhone to place a call to remote China, but when someone answers the call I will only have achieved connectivity, not communication. We have never been more connected and less in touch.
There is simply no shortcut to intimacy.
We fool ourselves into believing we long for a more personalized world with meaningful interactions with strangers. Everyone wants to live in a virtual Mayberry. The problem with this of course is that familiarity is by definition encroachment, and the emptiness of a crowd soon trumps the glow of our imagined World Wide Web of friends.
Maybe that’s why there has always been a connection between cool professionalism and dehumanization. It’s the doctor’s middle distance focus and the airline captain’s announcer voice. Each becomes a trusted Nobody for yielding ourselves when we are most vulnerable.
Intimacy requires risk. Save it for your trusted few.
Am I deleting my Facebook account? No. I’m just going to let it be what it really is – a very public forum for checking in with acquaintances from time to time, and by that I mean maybe once a day for ten minutes.
Life with friends is too precious to discount, and too short to be lived on social media.
NOTE FROM ELIZABETH: Do you agree? What have you done to meet the challenge of technological disconnection? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.
Rick Wilcox is a businessman, theologian and literature wonk. Founder and moderator of Literary Life, a website dedicated to the illumination of truth through reading the classics, Wilcox is an ordained minister with a heart for all of God's children.
* A Heartspoken Connection Messenger is someone who helps point the way to strengthening the four essential connections in our lives: with God, with self, with others, and with nature.