How to have real friends in a digital world.
By: Mary Caitlin Clark Campbell
How many friends do you have? I’m not talking about how many Facebook “friends” or Instagram “followers” – I’m talking about friends. Those people that you can rely on, confide in, and share with. No, I don’t mean sharing memes – I’m talking about sharing your highs, your lows, your fears and your triumphs. The people in your life. The people in your circle. Your squad. (Check out sermon link below)
In our digital age, it’s easy to lose the intimacy of real relationships. It’s easy to get caught up in comparison online, so we post our best angle and mountain tops and pretend to have relationships with these people behind a screen.So how do you sift through the online clutter and foster real relationships? Here are some tips that can help in your journey online:
• Be yourself – Easy enough right? Don’t get caught up in the comparison game and try to copy what everyone else is doing. It’s okay to not match, to not wear makeup and to not have it all together all the time. People relate to people that seem authentic so be the best, most authentic you behind the smartphone.
• Share more than the highlight reel – Elaborating on #1, be real online. Sometimes it helps to get things off of your chest and many times you’ll be surprised how many people can relate. As Christians, we are often facing the same kinds of temptations, struggles and hardships, so share with others if it can help others or you can find help.
• Connect offline – If geographically possible, make time to be together with your squad. While chatting back and forth behind a screen is beneficial, sometimes it helps to unplug and be in the company of others. Foster ACTUAL face-time with others digitally (Facetime) or in person.
• Pray for each other – REALLY pray – Let’s be honest – how often do you see a Facebook post asking for prayer, like it, and then continue to scroll and potentially forget to pray for that need later? Let’s challenge ourselves to stop even if just for a few seconds and silently offer up a prayer for that need as soon as we see it. They wouldn’t post it if they didn’t genuinely desire it, so petition on that person’s behalf in that moment.
• STOP before you post/share – We are living in trying times. Social media puts everything on blast and escalates many controversial issues. We are not going to see eye-to-eye with everyone. We base our beliefs on sound doctrine and our personal convictions, but I’d feel confident in saying something comes across our news feed DAILY that could outrage us. KEEP SCROLLING or share TRUTH, uplift others and remember that who you are ONLINE is a representation of who you are OFFLINE. Remember your online activity is your digital tool box to share God’s love and truth with others, use it wisely.
Lastly, make sure the people you are investing in online (and offline) are not hindering your faith. We often refer to those that tear others down online as “cyber bullies” or “trolls” and while we can choose for the most part who we connect with, they do exist, and they do slip through the cracks.