I keep up with friends by phone, email, the occasional text, over coffee, and at the dinner table. Most of my friends and family keep in touch on phones, tablets, and computers – a few clicks and it’s done. What’s happening with the family, where everyone is meeting, and a review of the new local restaurant go to everyone as a group. Social media is an efficient way to communicate, and this month I’ll jump in – the last one in the information pool.
I’m not opposed to social media. I think it’s a great way to share information. But information isn’t connection. Pictures with captions and a few sentences about my friends’ latest adventures are life snapshots: better than nothing, but just a passing glimpse of who they are. To connect in a personal way, there has to be more. Social media can go both ways: lead to deeper connections or keep those deeper encounters away. Information instead of or for encounter, Oz hiding behind the digital curtain or Bastian Balthazar Bux moving through the words to save a world and reveal himself.
Deep encounter takes time. When I don’t take the time to move through pictures and blurbs on a screen to true connection, the best I can hope for is a passing familiarity with those I love. That’s the easy road, requiring little more from me than an occasional hello. But it doesn’t bring me to the home where they live. To get there is a different journey on a road that requires time, effort, and sacrifice to walk. To be at home with those I love is communion – the true purpose and destination of all communication. Social media puts me at the crossroads. I hope I choose the road that will make all the difference…
[Oz can be found in Baum’s The Wizard of Oz series; Bastian Balthazar Bux lives in Ende’s The Neverending Story.]