I hear a lot of complaints today about how people don’t talk to each other any more, but it puzzles me as I feel as though I’m in touch with more people than I was 26 years ago.
26 years ago, this coming September, I left my home town for theological college. I only moved 6 miles away but apart from visiting family for which I needed a car (I couldn’t drive at first), the only means of communication was letter writing (& when you’re writing at college so much then also writing a letter feels like a chore) or telephone.
In 1995, I invested in a mobile phone, which felt like the foundation brick of my Manse, and I thought all my communication problems were over. However it was still only letter or phone, although now mobile as well.
Now, here I am in 2015, on Orkney where I’m having difficulty with my phone signal, but still able to keep in touch and share news from home and about our holiday with others. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, FaceTime, texting have all opened my world to countless people: they are the means by which prayers have been and are shared; news about the health of Alison’s Mum has enabled us to relax and similarly the means Alison has been able to share with our family about my health; the means with which I’ve communicated with my brother during his spell in hospital and our updating of each other about Dad.
Facebook in particular has reunited me with so many friends from days gone by and often thanks to instant messaging protracted conversations have ensued. I know their news and they know mine.
In my Ministry my world has enlarged so much as I hear far more about faith, theologically and news-wise, than ever before.
Yes, social media has its faults and failings, and yes nothing will ever replace eye-to-eye contact when talking, but I do query how much contact we really had before when people just went home after work, perhaps had a quick chat over the garden fence with a neighbour, and then went into the house to do housework, watch telly or both often only with the family around them and sometimes in isolation.
I find that social media does have its bad, bullying, opinionated aspect which is too often used to spread fear, discrimination, prejudice or to prey on the vulnerable BUT used well it can be a wonderful world opener.
May God richly bless your internet relations.