Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Human Connection

I am a people person born before the days of internet. I love a good text message to share a meeting time or answer a quick question, but in my world texting isn't for conversations.  I love to talk on the phone with friends and family.  I love meeting a friend for lunch or at a coffee shop.  I love spending time getting to know people.  That is just me.  Its how I am.

The rise of the internet has gifted us with abilities and opportunities that were once unimaginable.  I love being able to video chat with my mom and my sister in Ohio.  I have friends in different states, countries and continents, and its amazing to stay connected and see their children grow up.  I can expand my business beyond my city and state, order my Starbucks from home, I can glean from ministries all over the world and even watch the daily life of my favorite celebrities.  It has amazing possibilities.

However, computer relationships are not the same as face-to-face human encounters.  When you look at our social media culture, I'm not sure it reflects this truth.  Sure the rise in suicides seemed to stand side by side with the increase in time spent online with social media "friends," and researchers and authors have shared that connection, but by and large, I don't think we truly believed we were missing much by replacing human contact with internet relationships, and if we did see it, we weren't doing a lot about the living online problem.

Then came COVID-19.  Thank God for the internet!  We would not survive without it, but even with the year supply of toilet paper delivered to our homes, and a weekly, or even, daily zoom meeting, a month or more into Shelter in Place and its obvious something is missing.  Can you feel it? There is this void where human connection once lived, because no video can duplicate the power of a human in your presence that you can hug and hang out with.  Something weird is happening, all of a sudden I'm getting phone calls from my introvert friends!  Why? Even those people who are fine on their own without many people around, still need human contact.  Their need for people time may be lower than mine, but its not, non-existent.  (I know, that is a double negative).

God created man and woman in the garden.  He started our world and he sent us out into the world he created with a desire for him and each other.  Guess what?  Relationships are an essential need.  I think this may just in fact be the jolt we all need to recognize a pivotal shift is imperative as we create space for more meaningful face-to-face relationships.

I hope this is a reality check that we need to block out time in our lives, put down our phones, and be with other people.  This isn't just to be there for others, but to fill an intrinsic need within our own selves.  Taking care of oneself involves relationship, both spiritual and human.

We need human connection to survive.  Something that has hit me in all of this, is the fact that if this were to be the new normal for the rest of life or even life for the next few years, then that is not a life worth living.  Taking out the personal freedoms and connection with people, takes all the life out of life.  I love my family and I love the time I get with them, but being able to move about the earth deepens those relationships.  Being able to be with friends meets needs I have that my family can't fill.

So what about you?  What have you noticed about human connection in this time?  Who are the people you miss most?  How can you let them know their value to you, even now?  How can you re-prioritize when all this is done?  How have you taken human connection for granted?  We have an opportunity to take advantage of this gift and balance out the benefits of our internet and local worlds.  Obviously, I'm not advocating you break Shelter in Place, but I am advocating for more intentional living when we are able to resume a life with people outside our homes.

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