The Illusion of Connection

When’s the last time you had a deep and honest conversation? I don’t mean a discussion about the existential, political, or decisions made in life. I also don’t mean an email, blog, or text message. 

When is the last time you had a meaningful conversation where you explored the depths of your heart? One where you wrestled with your past, hoped for the future, sorted through your brokenness?

I can honestly say, It’s been a long time. Yes, conversations with my wife from time to time when we are not working, cleaning, parenting. Unfortunately, even deep discussions with a spouse aren’t givens.

We create giant social circles. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TicToc, Reddit, and the list goes on with different platforms, all creating little communities. Groups in Facebook that provide support and connection. Social media has become a place where we can emotionally vomit (I don’t mean this negatively) and feel like just maybe someone is listening. We enter text conversation with the picture to whom we are talking to in our minds as we stare at screens with green and blue text bubbles.

These mediums are not wrong in themselves. All of these platforms can create pseudo-micro communities and allow us to connect with people we never dreamed of or at least a neighbour or long lost high school friend. 

However, we must not forsake a real conversation with a real person, where we can hear the inflection in their voice, and they can see the joy/pain/triumph/sorrow in our eyes. Jonathan Grant writes, 

…it raises the question of whether social media is stimulating genuine relationships or just simulating them. Are we sharing our lives with others, or are we just broadcasting them? Are we learning the rhythms of intimacy, or are we too busy pleasing the adoring crowd?

I fear it is the latter, yet we delude ourselves in believing the former. Perhaps we are innately aware of this delusion, and that’s why we are still such lonely people. The illusion of connection can be a devastating ailment. It is one that I fear has captured our current planet.

If connection is food, then Socials, text, and email are potato chips. Chips (as we like to call them in Canada) are delicious and are of the more healthy of the junk foods, after all, they are made from potatoes and potatoes are vegetables. Though they are delicious, you cannot have a diet of chips. We need actual food. 

We need an actual connection with each other.

When we don’t get it, we search in other places. Russell Brand writes, 

Think of it: the bliss of a hit or a drink or of sex or of gambling or eating, all legitimate drives gone awry, all a reach across the abyss, the separateness of ‘self’, all an attempt to redress this disconnect.

I believe this is why the writer of Hebrews told us not to forsake the gathering of believers. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in perfect community, so we, created in the image of the triune God, were created for community and connection. Mark Waltz points out,

“To be human is to be spiritual. To be spiritual is to be relational. We are connected, like it or not.”

We need each other. Whether we feel weak or strong, we are in this together. How can we speak to the deep recesses in others’ souls if we never have a conversation and never dare to be vulnerable enough to make a valued connection?

Your socials are fine but don’t be duped and trade for the illusion at the expense of a genuine human connection. It’s hard, but if you’re willing to invest, you’ll find it’s worth it.

Check out the resource used in this post

[GUEST BLOG] Affirmation girl

Written by Sarah Trombley

Affirmation girl.

That’s me–this is my love language without a doubt.

I need … I crave kind words, and that’s great, we all need an encouraging word, but there’s an ugly side of the affirmation game, and it’s called validation.

I don’t just need affirmation, I need validation. I need to know I am liked, valued and essential. It seems to me that I’m not the only one. Our culture’s obsession with social media reveals this desire. Don’t get me wrong, I love socials, but this drive for followers, likes, and influence all stem from our need to feel validated.

The problem is unless we are being validated and affirmed by Christ, it’s a trap!

You see these days just about everyone is searching for validation. Like me, they search for it in titles, people, and likes on Instagram. We even subconsciously value people based on their followers on socials.

It’s like one giant high school popularity contest.

At times I can feel small and insignificant.

I’m the stay at home mom,

who didn’t finish college

and often gets written off as a ditz.

I want to be respected, noticed, and heard, which isn’t bad, but sometimes I also find myself wanting to be envied.

As I’ve recognized this in myself and in the culture, I’ve learned the importance of checking my motivation. I need to evaluate whether I am trying to build up myself or build a kingdom for Christ. I need to check who affirms me, who validates me.

Kind words from family, friends, and strangers aren’t the problem. In fact, we could all use a few more words of affirmation, but my worth and value are determined by Christ. He respects me, notices me, and hears me. He loves me and is proud to call me His own, and that is enough!

For more on this and other identity issues check out my husband’s book.