Have you ever skipped a stone across water? For it to work, you need to have a flat rock, throw it very fast, but aim it so that the rock barely touches the surface of the water. If you do it just right, the rock will bounce off the water 2 or 3 times. The secret is to go very fast and not go too deep.
In our digitalized, speed of light world, we are compelled to live our lives the same way – very fast, but not too deep. We flit from fad to fad, from event to event without ever to take the time to savor the meaning of any given moment. The goal is speed – to be in as many different places as you can as FAST as you can.
And social media seems to be the worst. With twitter, Facebook and all of the other points of digital connection, we are lured into believing because we have a lot of people dropping by our virtual locations, that we have a lot of friends. And we think we know a lot of people because we hear from them through electronic updates. We know where people have eaten, who they are hanging out with and how their day is going and we know all of this just by scrolling down our email.
We may know stuff about them, but we don’t know them. Friendship, true friendship can’t be done with a few clicks on the keyboard. Real friendship takes time, lots of time. You have to sit still long enough to hear the other person’s story. You have to understand their journey. Your friendship has to be tested in the struggles of life. That doesn’t happen–that can’t happen–in a digital world. That only happens face to face, walking the journey together.
No, I am not asking you to be everybody’s friend. I am asking you to look up from your cell phone screens long enough to see who is around you. I am asking you to push back from the computer, carve out enough time to listen, really listen, to someone else. After all, the best gift you can give a friend is your attention.
The greatest compliment Jesus ever gave His disciples was the moment He called them friend (John 15). He told them that after they had been together for almost three years. True friendships cannot be instantly prepared in the microwave of digital life. They have to be simmered for a long time in the warmth of everyday life.