There’s a frequent internal (and sometimes explicit) battle over the reality or illusion that is relating through social media. You’re constantly connected, yet you only catch the highlights of one’s life. You only catch the highlights of one’s life, yet you’re constantly connected. You passionately type out your best stated truths on controversial matters. But does that change anyone’s mind? We can quickly busy ourselves online in ways that feel important at the time, but what greater effect have you had? The internet can become a mental treadmill (or perhaps a rocking chair would be a better comparison) – constantly moving, but never really going anywhere. We spread our nets wide to just barely touch many people, but they aren’t REAL relationships.
Or are they?
Written word has been used to express the deepest parts of oneself since ever words were written. We pour out our affections and tribulations to our loves through poetry. We “know” our favorite authors through their books. Today’s entire character of the apostle Paul is built exclusively through his writing. There have been as many letters that held fast the bond between loved ones during times of war as there are insects in the jungle. Entire relationships – personally, some of my most meaningful relationships (Hey there, Bekah! Hey Esther!) – have been built and maintained though no other means than written words.
So considering that, where does social media fall? Clearly, this depends on how we choose to use it. It would be foolish to pretend that our little blips and bloops of insight into people’s lives is an accurate reflection of who anyone is. But then again, it would be reckless to pretend that words – even small words – hold no power or meaning.
In the end, we ought to be careful with our words and use them wisely. Personally, I like to try and use mine to build relationships, while trying to avoid busying myself with meaninglessness. That’s easier said than done, but my point is that I try to be deliberate with my verbal investments.