Thursday, March 07, 2013

The age of electronic friendship

Once upon a time we read in our Bibles statements such as "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly" and "A friend loveth at all times." In the new age of electronic friendship it seems to be "to have friends a man must be on Facebook" and "one may be friended and unfriended at any time."

Computers and electronic media are wonderful tools, but have we fully considered the implications of "electronic friendship"? Just what is it, if it is anything at all?

According to the, electronic friendship is a "friendship that is defined by communication ONLY via electronic devices. i.e. AIM, facebook, myspace, text messages, etc." Furthermore, this type of friendship generally does not even include phone calls. Such friendships are most common among high school and college students and help exlude the awkward moments of contact face-to-face.

Before the advance of social networking media, a friend was a person that you actually knew -- came in contact with face-to-face -- with whom there was an attachment of mutual affection and personal regard. Now we click the "Add Friend button" on someone's profile and instantly we are friends. No fuss; no mess. It's true, electronic friendships go bad, but all you have to do is choose "Unfriend." No fuss; no mess. Real face-to-face friendships are much more fussy and much more messy. Are they worth it? Yes!

The age of electronic friendship is not going away anytime soon. Let's use what is good in it and leave off the bad. Let's not abandon the "face-to-face" and let's not be the couple seated across the table in a restaurant, each ignoring the other while "talking" to friends via text, twitter, and twenty ways to Tuesday. The sympathizing tear, the hand of fellowship, the firm embrace, the holy kiss and sweet communion are best experienced warmly and in person.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

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