My family and I were having dinner the other night when I noticed a table of teenage girls sitting across from us at the restaurant. I began to observe their interaction and noticed that they had not said a word to each other the entire time. Rather, they were all on their smartphones texting other people–probably even texting each other. This is not normal. For humans.
OK, phones are not necessarily a problem, but really? Texting the friend just beyond the half empty ketchup bottle instead of simply speaking it? This is not why we go to Outback, is it? (Disclaimer: I fully condone texting an individual in a group conversation as an alternative to whispering a secret. For example, Steve, can you believe those girls are just texting?)
But, as a consequence of this digital phenomenon, many people do not know how to communicate face to face because they are so used to hiding behind a screen. They don’t know how to deal with an actual human being. I even find myself texting people confrontational things I would likely not say to their face. And when I encounter them, I often regret the text.
Now, I love texting. It’s great. Probably the best invention since the Chi. It saves time, can get me out of a tight situation (Steve, what’s your friend who works at Best Buy’s wife’s sister’s name?), and is an overall good thing. But it does not replace personal contact.
God is a relational God. And He created you and me to be relational, too. We need personal contact. We need to relearn the art of conversation. We need to be able to encounter intimacy in our friendships. Jesus lauded Mary for sitting at his feet, soaking in his presence. There is no substitute for face time! (see what I did there) We need community. We need to text sometimes, too. But that should never take the place of a good ole heart to heart, while face to face.