581 “Friends”—and Lonely
Thu, 18 Oct 2012 - 9:53 AM CST
What is one thing that over half of the world's population has in common? The online social connection to the world around us--Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, you name it. Social media has become an avid role in daily life, and it is difficult to imagine life without it. In fact, chances are strong that you are logged into Facebook right now. But despite all our connections in the social media world, could it be that we are experiencing an epidemic of loneliness? Though humanity may have access to anything and everything under the sun, could it be that this generation is lonely?
Andy Braner, president of Ahava Ministries, explains in his recently released book, Alone: Finding Connection in a Lonely World, why he believes the biggest issue this generation faces is loneliness.
Andy believes a lot has changed within the last decade in terms of how a generation interacts with each other. According to recent statistics, 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online compared to face-to-face.* For the first time in history, a generation has not experienced life without social media, and Facebook is viewed as the primary means of communication. In fact, some critics are saying that today's teenagers, having grown up with easy access to social media, could be the loneliest generation in history. Could it be that Facebook is hindering our ability to develop real, lasting relationships?
"With [one billion] people using Facebook as their social network, it is no surprise it's affected us. It's actually changed the way we talk about friends, likes and how we talk online," Andy remarks in the introduction of his book. "It doesn't mean Facebook is bad, or wrong; in fact I think it's one of the greatest inventions of all time. I think it's helped us connect to people we haven't seen in a long time, helped organize events or even galvanize groups of people to stay on point with an objective. But what of really knowing [each other]?"
"I believe [Facebook, Twitter, YouTube] are all useful tools, but I think when we make those things the priority of friendship without taking time out to go with friends or have adventures to create stories together, then we're just living in this cyber-space world where everybody knows what it's like to post your pictures on Facebook. You only post the good ones, and never the bad ones," Andy says.
Andy believes humanity was created to connect with each other--to know and be known. "We need to learn how to glorify one another, to give somebody credit." He goes on to say that it's important that we, as individuals, spend more time, energy and resources to engage in personal relationship with each other.
Andy says he believes life is first about connecting with God, and then how we connect with each other, and then the world at large. Connecting with others may take varying levels of time and effort, but it is important to remember that humanity exists for each other and for the pleasure of the Creator.
How to Book Real-life Face-time
Life is all about living the life you have been given and creating a story with it. Here are some ideas for taking a break from Facebook--and other online social media sources--and making some real-life connections.
Set boundaries on your phone. Write down some guidelines as to when you will use your phone and when you will turn it off.
Set aside a weekend a month--to do something that you've never done before, whether it be mountain climbing, a spontaneous road trip, creating a game or seeing a concert.
Get involved with the community around you; join a club at your school and interact with your peers.
Travel to another country. Go on a missions trip and experience a new, exciting culture.
Now, go out, live your story and connect with the world around you.
For more info, connect with Andy Braner.