Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Losing Our Humanity

I recall a story years ago about people who were basically hiding inside their homes, more comfortable to communicate with people through their email and "chat rooms" (remember them?). I am glad to say that this behavior has diminished (at least as far as I have heard). Another behavior has replaced it though, which may be far worse. People are no longer hiding in their homes, rather, they are back out interacting with society; but they are not interacting in a good way. They are present and walking around, but they have not overcome the impersonal interaction of the chat room.

They are interacting "outside the four walls" of their homes, yes. Electronic medium is being used to the neglect of personal interaction. (Yes, I am going to pick on Facebook again.) Much of American society has begun to think that electronic communication is a perfectly acceptable form of communicating with others (at all times) and that there is nothing wrong with it replacing personal communication. We have all seen the groups of people sitting at the same table at a restaurant, all the while they are texting someone else who is not present.

What has led to this? What is it that has made us "introvert" ourselves into the shell of a video screen? I am going out on a limb here, but I would like to propose the idea that Facebook has contracepted the humanity out of our souls. That is a challenging phrase, I understand. Let me unpackage this idea. The term "contraception" refers to the effort to "prevent" something from "conceiving". This is what has happened in the very core of our personhood. As we grow from childhood, we learn what it means to be human, and part of that humanity is the desire to be with other people. Yet, today, many people (especially youth) would rather spend time on Facebook with their (so-called) "friends" than face to face with real flesh and blood friends.

Hence, something has happened as a result of the heavy load of Facebook usage (and other Facebook-styles of medium) that most people engage in. The humanity that we are born with--that which makes us want human contact and interaction--has been prevented from coming to fruition and maturity. It is as though many people have received an inoculation that makes them immune to the natural desire of human interaction. Each of likes some time alone; we need that time of privacy and solace. Yet, generally that "alone time" has limits where people recognize their need for one another.

This basic part of our humanity is a result of our very creation in the image of God. The triune God has always had personal and perfect interaction; Father, Son and Spirit, for all eternity. The one time when this interaction was in any way limited among the three persons of the trinity was when Jesus spoke on the cross, "my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" That  loss of the personal contact (in whatever form that actually took--we can only speculate), was a tragic moment. We could say that that experience was the worst part of Christ's death on the cross, surpassing all the pain of the passion He endured.

Therefore, when we engage in good and proper personal interaction, we are showing what it means to live in relationship with the eternal trinity. We are showing that it is a good thing to look each other in the eye and communicate. Separating ourselves by various electronic forms is not a bad thing in itself, if it is used as a necessary means to communicate when we are not personally together. It becomes a bad thing when we choose it over personal involvement in each other's lives. Let us each ask ourselves the question: could we turn off the computer or smart phone and communicate more like a human? Could we find the joy of living life in the presence of the triune God of the universe? What a blessing that would be!