by Reba Mingledorff
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
II John 1:12
This post is not intended to blast social media or even discourage you from using it, but rather I am attempting to encourage us all to be good stewards. There are so many topics to discuss when it comes to social media and you could create a book on both the benefits and consequences. For this particular post, I want to discuss the impact it has on our relationships. Our society has completely redefined the meaning of the term “relationship” to the point that it is easier to make a “friend” than it is to make instant mashed potatoes.
Let me be clear and state that I enjoy using social media because it allows me to reconnect with friends and family who live various distances away. There have been so many times that a simple text message has brightened my day and countless moments when I received a hilarious meme from someone and it instantly lifted my spirits! I’ve had friends post Scriptures that were so applicable to where I was in that moment and even this article is currently utilizing social media in an attempt to uplift others. Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” and the use of social media is a definitely a tool that can be used in this manner.
However, when it comes to deep personal conversation there is something special about watching emotions play across someone's face as they speak. You get more of a sense of how passionate they are about a topic, how truly wounded they are, or how concerned a situation has made them. The tone of someone's voice and their non verbal body language can dramatically affect how we react to what they are sharing with us. These are elements that strengthen a relationship and we miss out them if we only rely on words that appear on a screen.
As always, we should turn to the Scriptures for guidance when we have questions in life, but how would the Bible address social media had it existed in those days? Now, obviously the apostles didn’t have Twitter accounts, but we do know that when they were unable to physically visit a location, they would often write letters. I suppose that this was their form of social media! Although, in 2 John 1:12, I get the feeling that this was not the preferred manner. John is ending his letter and states “having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” It seems that John felt it was important to spend quality time with the believers, not simply send written correspondence. Hebrews 10:24-25 is another scripture that is often quoted because it reminds us to maintain fellowship with one another.
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Now, there are some superficial relationships or acquaintances that can be maintained through a text or occasional post, but most deep and meaningful connections require time and effort. Let’s ask ourselves how well we are doing in this area. Have we grown so accustomed to “likes” and “emojis” that we can’t listen to a friend’s burden because it will exceed the character limit of our attention span? How many introductions have we missed out on because we were too busy typing? Which souls beside us in a grocery line were hungry for Truth and we failed to even acknowledge them? This has been on my heart for a while and I am trying to take steps to be intentional in my social interactions. My personal mission has been to purposefully take time to engage in conversation when I get on the elevator in my office building. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and a word of acknowledgement to make someone’s day.
I recognize that this idea of quality communication carries over into the most important aspect of my life; my marriage. This sacred relationship can be damaged significantly if quality communication is neglected. Now, my husband and I have only been married over a year and a half so I recognize that I do not qualify as a marriage counselor. Thankfully, I know an expert of sorts. My grandmother and grandfather have been married for 63 years and those of you who know her can understand that she was more than happy to give her 2 cents on the topic. The 2 cents quickly turned into $2, so I had to summarize.
In short, when I asked her what was the most important key (aside from the Lord) to a 63 year marriage, her immediate answer was: open communication. In her own little way she went on to say that “Sittin’ there scrollin’ across that screen just don’t cut it. You gotta take time to talk about feelin’s and thoughts or you’re just not gonna know what’s going on in that mind. And you just gotta take time to talk about those Scriptures and read the Word together”. Just take time. I know it sounds simple, but this is profound advice.
I will refrain from going down the time managment trail because that needs to be a post by itself, but let me encourage you to have time periods that are phone-free. It is absolutely crucial to have uninterrupted time to read, pray, spend time with family, go on adventures, and enjoy your spouse’s company without dragging 500 followers into every experience.
In summary, let’s purpose to “take the time to talk” and create strong relationships in our communities. Let’s “take the time to talk” and strengthen our families. Let’s “take the time to talk” and strength our relationship with God through prayer.