If I Have 600 Facebook Friends, Why Do I Still Feel Lonely?
Contributed by Jim Butcher on Aug 23, 2013 (message contributor)
Summary: This message addresses the ironic situation we find ourselves in today: more connected than ever yet lonelier than ever. The message focuses on the idea that having 2 or 3 good friends is more important than having 600 Facebook "friends."
[Video: see attached sheet – “The Innovation of Loneliness” – only use part of it – it’s at vimeo.com/70534716]
FIRST THINGS FIRST: It’s a lie that you can have 600 friends.
- For our purposes this morning, I want to use the terms “friends” and “acquaintances.”
- There is a difference between “friends” and “acquaintances.” It is impossible to have 600 friends. That’s just too many to keep up with.
- Why is that? Because to truly be a friend in any meaningful sense (as we’re defining things here), there has to be more than passing contact.
THE IRONY OF OUR 4G WORLD: We are more connected yet we’re more lonely.
- It’s a lie that you can have meaningful relationships with texts and Facebook.
- That’s not to say that texting or Facebook are wrong. There’s nothing wrong with either of them. They’re just not enough. We need more than that.
- It’s not enough to have 400 Twitter followers that you have fun with most evenings. That can be a cool diversion, but it’s not the same as actually having friendships.
- We need those face-to-face relationships. We need people who really care about us.
A BETTER WAY: You need 2 or 3 deep friendships more than you need 600 Facebook friends.
- If we have Facebook, why haven’t we eliminated loneliness? Because you need those face-to-face relationships.
- In fact, there are now studies that indicate that being on Facebook actually can make us more depressed and feel more isolated. Why? Mainly because of the power of comparison. We compare the reality of our lives to what everyone else is posting and our lives look inferior by comparison. Now, of course, part of that is because people are only posting the good stuff in their lives. We know that, but it’s still hard to shake that feeling of inferiority sometimes.
- I’ve shared before about the ironic regressive nature of technology.
- We’ve gone from face-to-face (full interaction; you get to see facial expression; you get to see gestures; you get hear vocal inflection) to phone (no facial; no gestures; you do still get vocal inflection) to email (communication but no facial, gestures, or inflection) to texting (all the limitations of email plus it’s briefer).
- Each of these were welcomed as progress (and they each certainly serve a purpose) but we don’t think about what we’re giving up each step down the communication ladder. It’s not that they don’t each have a place in our lives – they do. It’s that they are inferior forms and means of communication. Yet we act like they are superior.
- Why do we need deep relationships?
a. We need people who know us well (but love us anyway).
b. We need people to share daily life with.
c. We need people to call on in times of struggle.
d. There is joy in sharing our lives.
[Put in sermon outline]
- BIBLICAL EXAMPLES (BY THE NUMBERS):
a. 72, 12, 3.
- 72: Luke 10:1-24.
- Jesus sends out the 72 on a mission. There were throngs around, but these were chosen.
- 12: Luke 6:12-16.
- Jesus chose 12 to be His disciples.
- 3: Luke 9:28-36; Luke 22:39-46 (Matthew 26:37 has three disciples reference).
- Both with the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus has His three closest friends come with Him.
- I want you to notice the progression: there was the crowd, there was the 72, there was the 12, there was the 3. Why? Because you can’t have 600 “friends.” There are limitations to what you can do – you can’t be all things to all people. There was a level at which Jesus was willing to invest in the crowd, in the 72, in the 12, in the 3.
- For instance, Jesus seems to have spent a lot of extra time with the 12, trying to give them more intense teaching to ready them for the challenges ahead, especially after His Ascension. They were going to be the leaders and therefore they needed that extra time investment.
- Jesus modeled spending time with people.
- Look at all the places in the Scripture where Jesus is sharing a meal with someone.
b. 1, 2.
- Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 10:27-28.
- The two greatest commandments are both about relationships. That’s something to ponder for a moment as we consider just how important these friendships are in our lives. The greatest commands are not “action” commands, but relationship commands.
- This is one reason that we’re commanded to have a church family (Hebrews 10:25).
- People complain about relationships within a church family. Sometimes people are hard to get along with, so they quit.
- Now, we don’t want people to be un-Christlike in meanness or bitterness, but inevitably people are going to butt heads now and then. And that’s part of the point of you being in a church family.