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‘Facebook fast’ emphasizes relationships
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
August 19, 2010

‘Facebook fast’ emphasizes relationships

‘Facebook fast’ emphasizes relationships
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
August 19, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A church

near Houston is leading a National Facebook Fast, calling on people to refrain

from using social media for one day, Wednesday, Aug. 25, and instead to focus

on building face-to-face relationships.

Kerry Shook, pastor of the

Woodlands Church in Texas, and his wife Chris are challenging people to disconnect

from Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, cell phones and even computers for one day in

order to focus on the lost art of personal communication.

“We aren’t bashing

technology; we’re simply issuing a challenge for participants to take one day,

set it aside and act intentionally in their relationships,” the Shooks said in

a news release.

“For one day we’re getting

back to the basics and we’re inviting everyone around the nation to do the

same. If you have to rely on these methods for schoolwork or business, of

course do so, but outside of that, get unplugged.”

Modern communication, the

Shooks said, too often becomes a complete substitute for sitting down and

spending time with people, which is vital for building deep relationships. The

popularity of social media has led to a misperception that relationships can be

managed from a distance, they said.

“We’re forgetting the

amazing power of connection found in looking into someone’s eyes, giving them

our undivided attention, sensing their body language and being in their space,”

the couple said. “Or the transformative effect of an embrace, a handshake or a

hand on someone’s shoulder. As much as we want to tell ourselves otherwise,

rewarding and healthy relationships take time and effort.”

The Shooks recommend that on

Aug. 25 people meet with a friend for face-to-face conversation, plan a family

dinner night with no electronic devices to interrupt, get acquainted with a

neighbor, take a meal to a shut-in, visit someone in the hospital or mail a

handwritten note.

For many Americans, it is

easy to live through nearly an entire day looking at the world through glass:

the glass of a windshield, the glass of a television, the glass of a computer

monitor and the glass of a cell phone, said Don Whitney, associate professor of

biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Despite the incredible

benefits of these technologies and their abilities to help us connect with

people, they can also hinder our relationships and our spiritual health, much

as food is a blessing and yet too much of it becomes harmful,” Whitney, author

of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, said.

Even in the New Testament,

before the advancement of technology, Whitney noted, the Apostle John knew some

things were better said in person than by letter.

“He was willing to delay

telling them until he could communicate it while looking them in the eye: ’I

have many things to write you, but I don’t want to write to you with pen and

ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face’ (3 John 13-14; and

note that he also repeated this statement virtually word-for-word to his

readers in 2 John 12),” Whitney said in an e-mail.

“There’s a timelessness

in that example that we don’t want to lose, regardless of how sophisticated our

communication technology becomes.

“Let’s also remember that

God has given us an example of the importance of incarnate communication. He

didn’t just speak to us with a disembodied voice from heaven or send us a

written message in the Bible, as perfect and irreplaceable as the infinite

treasure of Scripture is,” Whitney said.

“Rather He came to us in the flesh —

in person. And by doing so God accomplished for us through His Son Jesus, what

written words alone could never do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach

is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)