Would You Rather Be Liked Online — Or Loved in Person? by Kari Kampakis
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
A little over a year ago, the exhaustion hit me. I began waking up in the mornings feeling drained, burned out and lonely.
The loneliness is what surprised me most. I have four kids, a great husband and friends I adore; why would I feel lonely when there’s no shortage of love in my life?
With a little self-reflection, I recognized the problem. For 18 months, I’d worked tirelessly on a project, writing and traveling and building a social media presence. It was non-stop. When things finally slowed down, I crashed. I was running on empty and desperately in need of downtime, prayer and regrouping.
The hardest truth to admit was that I’d neglected my closest relationships. I’d fallen into the black hole of my computer and my phone. The lifestyle changes I’d made to get everything done — like working through family dinners and turning down invitations to meet friends for lunch — caught up with me. As fun as it was to connect with new people and build online relationships through this project, I missed the people closest to me.
In my efforts to succeed in my work and be liked by people online, I’d forgotten the value of personal contact. I knew the only solution was to stop going wider into new relationships and start diving deeper into the relationships I already had.
And so I took a break. I started working less, calling people instead of texting, exercising regularly and reconnecting with friends. When my husband came home from work, I spent time with my family instead of retreating to my computer. I went on field trips with my daughters, hosted more get-togethers and helped with my 6th grade daughter’s play — one of my favorite parenting experiences yet.
I also prayed more during this break. I asked God to make His will for me clear, saying that if He wanted me to work less, I needed direction.
Slowly the changes I made refreshed my soul. I felt deeper peace and fulfillment than my computer, phone and social media presence could provide. What I learned was that spending too much time on technology breeds loneliness. The feelings I might try to escape by getting online — i.e., loneliness or boredom — are only magnified if I’m not making time for real-life connections.
Technology is a gift, but it can also be a crutch.
It can make us lazy in our relationships and instill a false sense of security of having more real friends than we do. Just because someone takes two seconds to “like” our latest post, however, doesn’t mean they’d take off an entire afternoon to help us in a crisis. A thousand Twitter followers doesn’t equal a thousand trustworthy friends.
Life’s best connections happen in person. God created us to live in community, and while digital communities can enrich our lives, they can’t replace the joy of eye contact, laughter and tears, hugging and the comfort, love and affection of a live human friend.
In today’s key verse, God reminds us to intentionally gather together: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
In an age when we’re more “connected” than ever through technology, many people feel lonely because they’re tending to the friends who “like” them online before the people who love them in real life.
The good news is: There’s hope. God wants us to love each other well, and He will guide us. Through Him, we can take small steps in the right direction. We can limit screen time and commit to spending more time in personal dialogue than online dialogue. We can also alter any habits that keep us from discovering the deep peace and joy of being loved and known in person.
Dear Lord, thank You for the gifts of friendship and community. Thank You for the technology that enables me to connect with others. Please, Lord, help me use technology wisely. Guide me in setting healthy boundaries so I can deepen my real-life relationships and ultimately grow closer to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Has technology enhanced or hurt your closest relationships? How can you prioritize your personal interactions ahead of your digital connections?
© 2017 by Kari Kampakis. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.
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