How much time do you think Adam and Eve spent talking to one another before they had sex for the first time?

In Genesis 2:25 both partners are described as naked, yet without any sense of shame.  They were comfortable with each other. There were no barriers between them.

However, the fact that their were no barriers does not mean that they experienced some kind of instant intimacy with each other. “Even though they weren’t sinful they still had to go through the process of getting to know one another; of adjusting to one another; of learning to live with one another. For us in our sinfulness this process is more difficult and  demanding.”(J.Howard, 1979)

One of the great mysteries of Genesis is that there is a vast amount of time that passes in a few short sentences. Adam had the chance to relate to to all the creatures of the earth (things) and realized there was no suitable partner for him (persons). He couldn’t communicate with any other creature. That is why God said, It is not good for man to be alone. He experienced aloneness because he could only relate, not communicate.  Man needs to be able to communicate meaningfully with another person. It creates non sexual but very intimate connection, and it takes time.

In this world of instant everything students bail on things that take real time, are hard to do, and requires real adjustment in their communication patterns.

We need to create space for them to have time in a world that has no time for them to have space. This way they can begin to communicate with God, and other people interpersonally and meaningfully.

So here are several reasons why the next generation find interpersonal communication so challenging.

Right now, there is nothing more frightening for the next generation than to be transparent with another person, let alone an adult.

appropriate, authentic, and valuable transparency in communication is a skill they don’t posses. If we are honest it is a skill most adults don’t possess either. That is why teaching appropriate interpersonal communication skills is to this young generation is a necessary tool to disciple students on how to have meaningful conversation with God. When we learn how to have a meaningful conversation with God. One in which we are active senders through prayer, and active receivers through the word and the Holy Spirit it will also deeply inform our interpersonal communication skills with people.

People relate to things. People communicate with people

Have you ever wondered why students share the most intimate details of their life with the world? The average 13-18yr old spends 9 hours a day consuming (listening) to media. Media, in any form is a thing. Something we can relate to but not have meaningful communication with. When a student uses mass communicates via social media they are relating to a thing or a medium not a person(s). Hence, there is a gross amount of over sharing in an attempt to create interpersonal communication.

Every like, share, comment, up-vote etc.. becomes their small personal connection (which everyone needs) in a mass communication world. Thus, their tendency is to be satisfied with casual, superficial, cliche-ridden comments that pass the time rather than build relationships. When 9 hours of your time is spent consuming (listening) to communication en mass then you are trained to communicate en mass, not interpersonally. Thus we have a generation confused into thinking mass communication is a valid and satisfying form of interpersonal communication. This is why in a world where everyone is connected the 13-18yr old reports feeling vastly alone, unloved, and unwanted now more than at anytime in history.

Sinners tend to hide.

We are sinners, and sinners tend to hide. Sin causes people to hide from God, but also hide from each other.

Social media, our cliques, our attitude and behaviors all hide what is really inside. The real me. We present to others what we want to be, what we want others to see, hear, and think about us. We use decoy’s. That is why it is so uncomfortable for students to have a real encounter with God or other people.

Meaningful communication with God and other people is probing. They ask questions and we ask questions, and we are responding to each other face to face. There is no place to hide. It is painful (when you don’t like the answers) and humbling (when you don’t know the answers) and scary (when we let people in behind the facade).  When people get into our hiding spot, it’s terrifying. It is vulnerability at a level we haven’t ever known. It makes us admit our own culpability.

As students begin doing this for the first time, its even more traumatizing. Which is why they avoid it, and why we avoid it. How can you help create circumstances for them to let God into their hiding space? It starts by letting God, others and that student into your life as well.

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One thought on “Face to Face: The difficulty of attaining authentic relationships in a social media world.

  1. Great thoughts Dan! Media has definitely challenged the present generation in its ability to have interpersonal communication, (i.e. Intimacy) but so has the generational idea I grew up with that “children should be seen and not heard”. I agree that even as adults many of us are comfortable without becoming vulnerable, mainly because we as sinners choose to hide not only from God and others, but even ourselves! We stay so busy, we tend to keep our radios, the tv and computers on because we can’t stand to be still and silent. If we were still and silent, we might not like what we hear, see or feel about ourselves. My ability to let a young person or anyone into my life (my wife included) and heart requires me to know myself, my real self and still know I am ok with God. To know that He accepts me and loves me as I am, not as I want people to think that I am. When that reality sinks deep into the heart, it frees me to be honest with myself, God and others. Media and being seen and not heard are not the only things that make it hard for us to be authentic. Family upbringing (generational Sin), nodal events etc., all affect our ability to communicate deeply with other human beings. The scriptures don’t record an argument between Adam and Eve or Adam hiding from God until after the fall. People have been falling in many ways for thousands of years and this has affected our ability to communicate as well. For me personally, going backward to go forward has been a huge step toward real authentic communication. That is acknowledging my timeline with all the good bad and the ugly and laying it before the God who loves me, heals me and emboldens me to be me. This process has begun to tenderize my heart toward others, fall more deeply In love with God and open my heart to others with all their hurts, habits and hang ups. Thanks brother for your thoughts on this real issue in the lives of youth and adults alike. Shalom!

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