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Entries in Social Media (2)

Thursday
Nov092017

Face-to-Face Friends Go Beyond Facebook

Leave it to counselor-coach Gail Goolsby to remind us to pursue real friends. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she encourages us to go beyond Facebook.

“As of January 2016, Facebook leads social network activity with approximately 1.6 billion regular monthly users,” Gail said. The average Facebook user has about 340 friends, but are they real or fake friends?”

I (Dawn) think Gail is hitting on a great truth. How we define friends has truly changed in recent years. And with that redefinition comes some difficulties.

Gail continues…

In 2010, TV talk host Jimmy Kimmel proclaimed November 17th as National UnFriend Day.

For UTube, he created humorous videos to help his viewers determine who to dismiss from their overloaded friend list on Facebook.

He playfully demonstrated that:

  • If people posted countless selfies/baby/pet/vacation photos,
  • or if they complained about their health repeatedly,
  • or sent online game invites too many times—

CLICK. They were unfriended.

Kimmel proposed social media users should reflect on what true friendship means, and how to be a better online friend with less people.

A Good Friend is Hard to Find

How do we develop real, meaningful relationships in short phrases, food and family pictures, and emoticons from a cell phone or a computer screen?

What do online friends actually contribute to our lives?

A dozen synonyms from the thesaurus for friendship include: affection, closeness, intimacy, love, understanding, alliance, attachment, company, empathy, familiarity, fondness, and regard.

Can we form a genuine attachment to people that we do not share physical presence with on a regular basis?

Can we read others’ theological debates, political rants, favorite Bible verses, daily updates and hope to become emotionally or spiritually connected?

Let’s review friendship examples and exhortations that come from Scripture and compare them to online friendship potential.

1. Job 2:11 (ESV)

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.

The three friends went to sit with Job in his troubles.

Are twenty postings of encouragement on a Facebook wall as powerful as a person in physical proximity to communicate support? I don’t think so.

2. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Loneliness can be challenging as well as sad. Friends together can accomplish much and share the burden of moving, repairing, cleaning, planting, harvesting, and building.

Typed words alone will not get the tasks done.

3. Proverbs 27:6, 17 (ESV)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Online friends can be sincere or not—who would know? Compliments and likes are easy to provide with a few clicks of computer keys or adding cute faces and heart symbols.

To speak the hard truth to a friend that could really help her life situation requires a deep knowing and foundation of trust built over time and shared experiences.

People need facial expressions and eye contact to fully comprehend risky messages and to grow from the interactions.

4. Proverbs 18:24; 17:17 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

How many friends should be gathered, or is quality more the question than quantity?

  • Needed are the companions who stick around when cancer strikes, to tenderly hold up a friend’s weak body after chemo.
  • When divorce erupts or a child dies, real friends offer more than comforting scripture memes.
  • Friends provide meals for the family when the wife/mother cannot get out of bed as well as online prayers.
  • People need to feel a hand on their shoulder or see an empathetic expression of sadness on their friend’s face sitting across the table, not just a teary emoji in a text box.

Face-to-Face Works Best!

Should we unfriend? Forget about spending time sorting your Facebook friend list this month. Close the laptop and get together with actual friends for some real-time activity.

Communicate with the people right in front of you instead of working your fingers to talk to others in cyberspace.

Be a live, human friend, present and engaged with the important people in your life.

Facebook can wait.

What friendships have been neglected or reduced to brief digital messages that need your personal attention and care?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 39 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Get to know more about Gail here.

Graphics adapted, social media courtesy of geralt and Best Friends courtsy of cherylholt—both at Pixabay.

Thursday
Nov062014

Creating Screen-Free Spaces

Arlene Pellicane is committed to family togetherness, and in this Parenting UPGRADE, she explains how modern media can get in the way.

“When my husband and I were married more than fifteen years ago, he had a strange request,”LetSomeT Arlene said. “Could we have a TV-free home for the first month of our marriage? He wanted to spend quality time together in the evenings after work instead of turning on the tube.”

My (Dawn’s) first impression when I read that was, "Wow! What a man. What insight!”

Arlene continues …

Although it was quite a stretch (I was working as a television producer then), we did it. When we brought the television back, it seemed like a noisy intruder to our peaceful oasis. We’ve never subscribed to cable or watched TV in our home since. 

As a result, our children (ages 4, 7 and 9) have grown up in a TV-free home. My kids aren’t up on the latest programs. They’ve never had the television on as background noise. When it is movie night or we watch a funny video online, it’s a big event and the kids come running. 

But I can honestly say a media-poor life has given us a family-rich life. Ethan, Noelle and Lucy have grown up with a love of books, music, exercise and plenty of time for imaginative play. 

Now I am not saying that canceling cable is for every household. But I do want to encourage you that it is possible to raise your children differently even in a media-saturated world.

My oldest, Ethan, is in fifth grade, and his friends can’t believe he doesn’t have a television or video games. 

“You poor thing, what do you do all day?” they ask. Ethan smiles and says he likes to read, play the piano, and build things with Legos. It may be difficult at first to cut back on television for your family, but in time healthier alternatives will arise in the absence of television.

Now, before you think I’m unaffected by screen time, let me confess. 

I may not watch television, but my home computer with its dual monitors is always humming. I’m constantly sitting in front of my computer, writing books or blogs, checking emails and social media, updating my calendar and contacts. I’ve explained that mommy is an author who works from home, which legitimizes my screen time to my children. 

But I know many times I’m shopping on Amazon or reading a friend’s blog—spending unnecessary minutes with my screens instead of taking a break. 

Spouses are especially gifted at pointing out areas of improvement.

When I asked James about my screen time, he exclaimed, “You are always on your computer!”

As a result of this realization, I am doing an experiment by turning off my computer after dinner. This forces me to be more productive in the day time and ensures I won’t waste my time mindlessly online in the evening. 

Like me, most adults automatically check their devices several times an hour. Staring at screens is anything but relaxing. So when you set a curfew for all your gadgets and power off at the same time each night, it will actually prepare you to have a better night’s rest. You can put yourself, not just your kids, on a schedule. 

How much television are you going to watch per day? How long are you going to stay online? 

My co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, Dr. Gary Chapman, posted a question on my Facebook page about how to create more distance between ourselves and our digital devices. Here are a few of the responses:   

We are putting a bin at our front door with a sign that says, “Unless you are expecting a call from God, the Pope, or the President – please deposit your device here so we can make the most of our time together.

We unplug from the time we get home until we get up again the next morning. 

Try going without devices in your home just two days a week and see how relaxed and refreshed you are.  Enjoy the outdoors the other days. True happiness! 

Wireless is on a timer so it goes off at night. 

There are many ways you can tailor-make a digital Sabbath that will work well for you and your family.

As you pull away from the noise of the screen, you will be able to tune into the heart of God and your family members more easily.   

What has worked well in your life to create screen-free space?  What would you like to try this week? 

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (co-authored with Gary Chapman), 31 Days to a Happy Husband, and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. Arlene has been featured on the Today Show, Family Life Today, K-LOVE, The Better Show, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, and TLC’s Home Made Simple. Visit Arlene at www.ArlenePellicane.com for free family resources including a monthly Happy Home podcast.

Note from Dawn: In case you still need some motivation to create screen-free space in your life, watch this sweet, powerful video featuring Arlene’s family.

Graphics: adapted image, courtesy of smarnad and photostock, both at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.