A few months ago, I went to a new coffee shop in Denver for some blogging time. One of these hip, locally-sourced-everything, coffee-passionate cafe’s where you start to feel guilty that you just drink coffee and haven’t visited the farms in Costa Rica where the precious beans you are enjoying have been grown. I must admit I love these places because my blood runs bold, dark, and french-roasted, but, I am not fully steeped in the cold-pressed, pour-over, wear-used-burlap-coffeebean-bags-that-have-been-repurposed-as-a-dress way of life.
Ok, enough about coffee. I asked for the Wifi password, as the internet is the lifeblood of blogging, they responded, “Human Interaction.” Of all the hipster, cheeky passwords to choose, they chose one dripping in irony. So every person who is in here on their computers had to go through the thought process of: “Hey. I’m alone with my computer. Again. Not actually interacting with anyone.”
I know that I do get some “human interaction” on social media but we all know it is not the same as sitting across from flesh and blood, being able to read facial expressions, hear the tone of their voice and study the color of their eyes. Social media these days has a reputation for being an inauthentic platform. Where the world’s finest moments are on display, the image of life as we want everyone to see it. And, honestly, how can it not be that way? I don’t want to take a selfie of me, sick and in bed, too tired to pick up my kids. I don’t want to tweet about how I just put one of my sons in time-out for the fifth time in two hours, and then yelled at the others. How are we supposed to feel safe enough to share our hardest and not so pretty moments with our facebook “Friends” and instagram “Followers”, when all we see is the perfect, happy pictures, and the scrapbook moments of everyone’s lives?
Maybe the key is just realizing that we aren’t seeing the whole picture. That the internet, while being nearly unlimited in its scope, is a limited form of human interaction. Where we can access people’s surface identities, but have to dig deep, much deeper to get to their heart and the reality of who they are and what they are going through. I find that when I am going through a rough time, or my life isn’t particularly grand, I stop posting. I figure people don’t want to see all this mess, but in doing this, I am cutting others off from the reality of my life, who I am, and that I really do find beauty in the messiness of life.
In college, I went to a worship gathering and they would open the night by telling us that every human being needs seven touches a day to keep them sane. So we would spend five minutes hugging our friends and strangers, interacting with one another face-to-face, which is quite a risky move with hormone driven teen-twenty somethings. But I know that they were trying to address the loneliness that comes from moving out on your own, away from friends and family, and where many crumble under the weight weight of books, papers, and studying isolated in our rooms or library cubbies.
As a stay-at-home-mom, I long to be with other moms who understand my struggles, to be with adults with whom I can converse, to sit for twenty minutes and not have the need to scold them for throwing food on the floor, or run them to the potty so pee doesn’t get everywhere. I am lucky that I have these little hands to hold, and sweet, slobbery kisses to receive from the little boys I call sons, but we all need people, a tribe. God made us to be in relationship with each other, to crave it, to lose our minds without it. Kind of cool of God to put it in our DNA to ensure that we don’t live alone.
So my charge to you today and all days, is make sure you interact with someone, offline. Shake a stranger’s hand, call your mom so you can hear her voice, hug the hipster barista at your favorite coffee shop. Show someone the 'real' you and that human interaction will warm your soul far better than a pumpkin spice latte.