One of the great paradoxes of the modern age is that we have so many ways to communicate, yet seem to have so little in the way of authentic communion, friendship, and relationship. A look down the sidewalk, or in the subway, or even in restaurants will reveal people lost in their devices: texting, checking email or Facebook, or listening to music. They are all but oblivious to the actual human beings around them. The virtual has eclipsed the real; cyberspace has become many people’s preferred living space.
Lost, too, long before the “electronic device age,” was the family dinner. This was once a fairly regular and expected part of family life. It is now rare in most homes, so rare that the dining room table (if there is one) is piled high with anything but dishes and food. Long gone is the family meal as well as the sharing (and sometimes arguing) that went along with it.
Long ago, a scribe asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with a parable showing that your neighbors are those nearest you at any moment, especially those who are in need or can help you in your need. Consider this: if you are involved in an accident, the folks at the other end of your device aren’t going to be of much use in helping you to climb out of the wreck. Suddenly you will realize that your neighbor is not merely your “friend” out in cyberspace; it is the one whose hand is stretched out to help you escape the danger, or the one who needs your help.
Enjoy the far-reaching connection of the Internet, but do not forget that the virtual can never replace the real. Greet your neighbors as you walk around; stay connected, not just virtually but really. In the twinkling of an eye you might need them far more than you ever imagined.
Enjoy this humorous video of a mother who wanted to reintroduce her family to one other. If this device doesn’t exist, it certainly should!