As a young boy(many moons ago), I was fortunate enough to witness one of America’s great past times, visiting. Perhaps it was called something else in your area, but visiting was what people did after church. I can’t quite say how it was all coordinated, but it seemed like half of the people put their families in the car and went out visiting people and half were waiting at home with pie and cookies. Most of the time we were visiting family, I was gobbling up the goodies as a young boy would. Sometimes we would visit Uncles with lots of kids, and sometimes it was just an old relative that lived alone. The beauty of it was that I was able to watch people converse and interact. The adults would tell old stories about people I never met, talk about the latest farmer to get a new silo, and laugh. Man, we sure would laugh! Most of the time I didn’t even understand what was funny, but I just laughed right along. The visits rarely lasted more than an hour and as we were pulling out, often another bunch of folks were pulling in. We could easily make 4 stops on a Sunday and I know we did plenty on Saturday too after our weekend work was done. We definitely weren’t social butterflies, but it’s what most folks did in some form or another.
Visiting is a lost art these days. We’ve got Facebook and a host of other social media to stay connected with the facts of other people. We’ve got social media, Netflix and sports to occupy every ounce of our free time. Human interaction has become so obsolete that if you aren’t on Facebook, no one even knows that you exist.
The penalty is that people no longer understand how to have a conversation or compassion. When you communicate via phone or computer, you are only transferring facts. You are totally alone when you are involved in communicating with some one that way. When you receive a joke from a friend on your phone, you’re laughing alone. There is no one with you. That isn’t human interaction, you are alone. Reading or responding to a post doesn’t make you kind or compassionate, it shows the lack of it. Why aren’t you with your friend or relative sharing the joys and hurts of life? Sure I get the travel/distance thing, keeping up with folks that moved away, but what are we filling up our visiting time with?
History has shown us a few things, when human interaction died off, our need to fill that void with something that satisfies has been disastrous. We have corrupted our base needs for value and affection and have turned people into zombies that are unable to converse, communicate or have any honest compassion (with action) for anyone. Pornography is a substitute for marital relations because the internet is easy and we don’t need to invest the kindness that our spouse deserves. Facebook is easy relationship because you can just push a key and they’re gone when you disagree or become bored. We don’t have time to go visit people because we have been duped by the marketing of greed.The insatiable need for the latest junk has eaten all our time and seeing people is only enjoyable when showing off the latest piece of future junk. Kids are committing suicide over social media bullying. The internet makes a lot of sin available to replace our fellow humans. That sin never satisfies, so it becomes increasingly bizarre to attempt to satisfy. There is no replacement for sitting down and laughing with people over pie. There is no app that is like grieving with someone. You can’t Snap chat the smile of a lonely old person as they open the door to see you waiting there. You can’t Twitter a pat on the back to a struggling friend. You can’t send a text to bring someone to Jesus. The Christian culture, no, the Jesus culture needs to be hands on. We need to be in visiting mode at all times. Jesus took the time to sit down and laugh and cry with folks. He would never Tweet a healing. He put His hands and feet to work, not to heal everyone but to model the kindness and compassion that we’re supposed to be sharing. If we are His people, we are supposed to be engaged in sharing His love and hope.
There is a void that needs to be filled in all of us, don’t fill it with fake things. Things that only lead to sin and isolation. The world is filled with people hiding behind a computer screen surrounded by others hiding behind an I-phone. Social zombies. The walking dead. We need to show them something different. The password to Heavens gates is J-e-s-u-s. You can’t steal my identity in Christ, but I’ll be glad to share it with you and you can hack into my Bible anytime. Social media isn’t a sin, its a tool. A very small tool. Now, turn off your computer till next week and go for a walk and say hi to some folks or maybe go visiting. You never know, they might have pie!