By Ed Kaczmarek
"I'm not lonely; I have over 500 Facebook friends!"
I have become increasingly concerned about the impact today's technology is having on our youth, and on our culture in general. While many people believe they are more connected than ever through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., in reality they are more relationally disconnected than ever before.
How many of us have noticed how many teenagers are fixated on their phones, even while sitting in a group? Have you witnessed a couple on a date at a restaurant, both tapping away at their screens instead of spending time with one another? When did it become so urgent to answer a phone call or text that we'll interrupt a meeting or one-on-one with a REAL LIVE human to do so?
So often, people resort to social media to "connect" with others - but this form of connection lacks the substance of real, face to face relationship. God has designed us with the need for eye to eye, life to life contact. Social media can interfere with his plan. How many of us have failed to pay a visit, make a phone call, or send a card because we already "liked" it on Facebook? How many of us have mailed a handwritten letter at all in the past 10 years? Doesn't email and social media make it just a little - or a lot - easier to sit behind a desk rather than to meet someone at the park or coffee shop?
And the latest research confirms that the problem is not just irritating; it can be downright deadly. Recent research shows that people who spend time with other people actually live longer. A study done at BYU shows that not only are we as a culture becoming more isolated, but that isolation increases our risk of dying early by up to 32% - as much as obesity, substance abuse, or lack of health care! The study goes on to predict that, by 2030, there will be a health-impairing loneliness epidemic among people under 65. "All developed countries show increased trends for living alone - the highest in recorded history," says study co-author Tim Smith, Ph.D. While it's not clear exactly why socially isolated people are less healthy (Smith speculates they may have poorer self-care, no loved ones to encourage them to seek treatment, lower passion for life), there's no disputing that they are.
So, if you want to live a long healthy life, closer to God's perfect plan, limit your endless "anti social networking" and get RELATIONAL! Other humans need you - and you need them.