I feel as though there is some irony in this post. I just noticed that I have 31 followers on my blog, some of whom are people I have met along the road of life, others are folk I will probably never know this side of heaven. Either way, they are real people (unless of course I have a band of spam followers), real people with backgrounds, stories, voices, work, hobbies, weekly schedules. Again, with a few of them I am a part of all that stuff, but with most I'm not.
The same goes for many of the other social media outlets I have ventured back into over the past three months. I have nearly 1,900 friends on Facebook; I am climbing toward a whopping 200 followers on The Twitters. In rural Texas or maybe a small town in the 1700s I might be considered a big deal - an important person if you will - with those kinds of stats.
Yet tonight a close friend, a real-life friend who has been verified by my own eyes, hands and ears, told me that he was shutting his fairly successful blog down because he was tired of the Internet culture. The five month hiatus from this very culture was swirling around in the back of my head so forcefully that it cause my head to nod up and down in agreement. I admit that I grew tired once again just reading his text and I was tempted to join him in the ranks of rebellion against the ever-growing trap of the finely woven Interwebs.
The problem I notice with myself and with countless others is our salivation at connectivity combined with our lack of thoughtful engagement on this still youthful platform. For some reason we hold that the same rules apply with the screen as they do in the skin. FB uses the now ubiquitous term "friends," which give some with already stalkerish tendencies the idea that they could just befriend that pretty girl in the random photo, message her, and they will be pals for life...maybe even at some point they will go on a date! Folks who are using Twitter strive to come up with a witty, sticky comment that will be retweeted by followers or @replied. That's the only reason I use it; my influence abounds with the massive following I have. Then there are podcasts, vodcasts, and soon-to-be 3D versions of both!
A saturation has occurred in the exponential growth of Interwebs connectivity and supersaturation is fast approaching. Every bubble bursts and I think the increase in weariness is due to the acknowledgment that we do not receive what we ultimately long for when interacting with other human beings - intimacy. It could be holding a loved one, hanging out with friends at a coffee shop, or the odd form of intimacy found in a loud argument between best friends or spouses.
I wonder when we will all grow tired. I wonder at what point in our lives we realize that the attention of thousands of truly nameless faces will never amount to the acceptance we have with those whose names and faces we know so well. I wonder when I will stop caring about how many wall posts I got on a given day or how many people are actually reading this and commenting. I am tired along with my friend, but bouncing off this is not the answer for me. Balance is.
I see a great platform for the gospel. The Interwebs is a place to begin at least telling the story of our great God and his redeeming project through Christ to restore our intimacy with Him forever. He is the Christ not of a Facebook profile or a Twitter account, not just some person I will friend or follow and never meet, but the Christ of flesh and blood, whose feet walked the very earth he created, whose voice was heard by thousands, whose wounds Thomas touched, and whose ascension the disciples. Through Christ I am not merely these words on a screen or a home video created on my Flip camera; I am an adopted slave, made a son of God, and a co-heir with Christ. I am able to approach the throne of God boldly and confidently and ask for anything. I have God's Spirit within me leading me, guiding me, praying for me. Why should I ever care who I am and how close I am with others in a virtual world when I walk with God everyday in the real one?
This is the closeness we all seek in this world of mostly empty connectivity. I just pray that as we all grow tired of it that we won't simply run to the next latest whisper, whistle or flashing light that promises a life it can never provide, but will instead turn to Christ because he is the only one who can give us freedom from the tangling web and intimacy with God.
By His Grace.