So we’re using Skype video chat for an online class that I’m doing… and it’s come up a couple times in my brain: I love this technology thing! We live thousands of miles apart but we connect via webcam and it almost feels like we’re in the same room as we talk about faith and life. Almost… even though it’s a cyber-community, it still feels like we can build relationship if we work at it.
One of the comments that came up last night:
I’m not sure I belong because I think I’m in a different place than everyone else.
How so? I don’t feel connected.
And that made me think… how connected are we? I mean really… These modern social media tech tools… Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn and the like… seduce us to believe that we are intimately connected with the whole world. And in a way we are… but I don’t think that connection is deeply personal or meaning-full. This is not a new revelation. Any regular social media user acknowledges/understands/realizes the superficiality of technology platforms. Social media is more about spreading information than it is about developing personal relationships.
But then… being the church nerd that I am… I started thinking about the person sitting in the pew behind me during Sunday Mass. Does that person feel like they belong? Does that person feel connected?
The church used to be the hub of connection but that was a few decades ago. When I was growing up, every single one of my friends in some way was connected to my church circles. That’s just how life was. There were a lot of cultural reasons and sociological systems why it was that way… but many of those are no longer valid or in place. So today, where is that hub of connection? A lot of people are looking to the internet… and sadly, finding that it just doesn’t fill the ultimate void.
What if the person sitting behind me feels like they don’t belong because they’re in a different place than everyone else? And the person sitting next to them feels the same… and the next person… and the next… But we don’t really know for sure where we all stand because we’re not connected/we don’t talk about faith/we don’t feel comfortable talking about faith/it doesn’t feel like the priest is connected/it doesn’t feel like faith connects to the real world/everyday life is distinctly separate from Sunday church… and the disconnect perpetuates.
The desert abbas and ammas knew that being disconnected from each other meant death for the soul. They gathered frequently for spiritual mentoring… intentional about building community even as they lived in solitude miles from each other. We are not so different these days… although I wonder how fervently we seek each other’s spiritual wisdom.
Question of the day: Are you connected? … really?