Everyday I face bridges. Not physical ones but phycological choices to cross over and enter into the complex and emotional world of relationships. I face these bridges nearly every minute of the day but I am discouraged in taking this journey into that realm of real people because of digital distractions. Those electronic wonders are so easy and convienient to grab and pseudo connect with screen names on my smart phone, my computer or my iPad. They give me the false impression that I am connected in relationship, fulfilling that longing to be known and not alone.
A study on attention span and the effects of technology recently found that “students were only able to focus and stay on task for an average of three minutes at a time and nearly all of their distractions came from technology.” The study also identified some amazing culprits: smartphones and laptops. They even went further to research and discover that people checking Facebook within 15-minute spans of time had a dramatic reduction in being effective students. We wonder why we feel alone.
Have the advances in technology regressed our relational skills to actually be known and loved? Do we stare at the bridge of entering into relationships and settle for the digital distraction? Relationships are hard. They require a deeper commitment, more than a simple post here and there. Deep relationships that can shape our lives for the better need a commitment and trust to work through pain, conflict and disappointment. The inner longings we have to not be alone require time and trust.
Our dog Thor, a Boston Terrier, is full color entertainment for our family. Twice a day Thor is given food necessary for his growth and health. When we pour that food into the dish he will with a laser focus consume that food without disctraction except for one exception: a ball. Once he sees this bright orange wonder he will walk away from all that will sustain his strength and development for a few moments of bliss of fetching a ball. Strange that we can see a dog’s behavior as silly, mindless and even dumb but do not see the slow subtle destruction we choose every day. Relationships are not an option for your life, they are a necessity.
You must choose the bridge and cross it.
In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. Proverbs 27.17