I want to know You/ I want to hear Your voice/ I want to know You more. I want to touch You/ I want to see Your face/ I want to know You more. “In the Secret” by Chris Tomlin — New Day Service song.
Did you hear Mark Zuckerberg say last week that, “FaceBook connects people”? The promise of “social media’ sounds great, that you could keep up with all your friends all over the world all the time, and not have to travel to actually meet them. But we’ve been at this for a decade now, and the results differ from the promise. Dr. Albert Mehrabian found that only 7% of a message is conveyed through words, 38% through vocal inflection, and 55% through non-verbal means. Oops. That means that we need to have face-to-face conversations to understand what our friends want to tell us.
Did you know that there is a large portion of your brain (the inferior temporal cortex) that is specialized for facial recognition? In the purse of a lip, combined with the arch of a brow, your brain recognizes “skepticism” and “connects” you to that person’s inner emotions. We’re good at this mind-reading, this type of connection. In fact, we need it. We need to know what other people are thinking and we need to share what we’re thinking with other people. We are social beings. We are actually unhappy, and almost depressed, if we don’t connect daily with other people. Solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments a jailer may inflict on a prisoner…the starvation of social contact, of “connection”.
It turns out that FaceBook, and the device you are reading this on now, are tools that make it easier for you to make connection, but they are not the connection themselves. You can’t substitute digital communication for face-to-face connection, at least not without negative consequences. It turns out that the places we meet; in the grocery store, at the gym, on the street, and yes, (You knew this was coming, right?) in church are vital for our health. These are all places where you truly can connect with people, as a human being, as God intended you to. You always knew that church was good for you, but now you can sit with others in the narthex, enjoying Mrs. Wolf’s cookies from the coffee bar, and know that you’re doing something good for yourself. You’re making connection, and that makes you healthier and happier.
So as you work through this week, won’t you pray on this prompt with me from Psalm 139: 14? “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
May you use FaceBook and social media for the tools they are, but never let them get in the way of the real connections God wants us to make everyday as His unworthy servants here on this earth.
Amen. Authored by Brendan Armitage.