Am I willing to be Jonathan for someone God has placed in my life? Am I willing to risk everything for the benefit of a friend? Have I sought out someone who will be this honest and this caring for me? Am I willing to be open and vulnerable enough with them for them to be able to help me?
Chamath Palihapitiya, one of the founders of Facebook before he left in 2011, was quoted by multiple sources in 2017, saying, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.” Most of us have seen our children’s ability to talk on the phone, have a conversation in person, read, or simply entertain themselves without a screen in front of them dwindle. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit our own ability to maintain attention when conversing with someone else has eroded. We’ve seen the gulf between opinions grow, regardless of whether it is over the color of your Christmas lights, or a life-and-death political opinion. We’re losing our ability to collaborate, to compromise, to imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes and empathize with their feelings. In the years since this warning was issued, we've only seen the negative impact multiplied.
This social media rant may seem unrelated to my original point, but it is integral. You can’t BE Jonathan for someone else if you are interacting via a screen in 280 characters or less. You can’t open up and be vulnerable enough to allow someone else to speak into your life, if all they ever see are your happy, post-worthy moments.
Let’s unplug from our devices and plug in to those around us. Let’s close the app and open our hearts and our minds to the people we love. Let’s seek to build relationships that are deeper than a tweet or a GIF.