November 19, 2010

Humble Lessons in Communication: Reality Trumps Connectivity

I remember the day that I got my first Blackberry. It was a Blackberry Pearl. It was the first time that I was continuously connected to a number of different communication tools. Facebook, Twitter, Email, SMS, Internet, all at my fingertips, making me much easier to get into contact with by anyone who was linked to me via those mediums. Naturally, the geek inside of me began to flourish as I learned more and more how I could best use this tool to connect with people and, later on, students.

I was working in Junior High then and really had no need to be connected to students as much, but as I began to transition to Senior High and a much more connected group of students, it became clear that this new instrument was going to be very fruitful. Anytime a student sent me a message, I would get it almost instantaneously, be able to respond and remain connected to that student. It made my presence on social media much more obvious. But there was one aspect to this whole thing that I didn't recognize until recently and it made me change my focus when using these tools.

Connectivity cannot replace reality.

At no time does the use of any social media tool replace the physical touch of a person to person meeting, the face-to-face conversation of a one-on-one run-in, or a voice-to-voice phone call. It is so tempting, especially in student ministry, to allow Facebook, Twitter and texting to be the only form of communication or touch that we have with students. I mean, come on, all of our students are on one of those forms of communication and it is so much easier to touch a larger number of students that way. But we have to recognize that the bandwidth bank account only accepts personal deposits.

I think Zig Zigler gets credit for this one, but the saying goes, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Maybe it needs to be revised a bit in these days: "A person doesn't care how much you have to say, unless you care enough to say it in person." The fact is that unless we establish a "real" relationship with people, it doesn't matter how connected we are.

What forms of connectivity are you using?
How has that helped or hurt your ministry?



Shelley said...

I have been processing through this exact thing over the last week & decided to end my Facebook account. (Ultimately, I am keeping it for contact reasons only. Other moms will use Facebook to arrange carpool, sports schedules, etc, so I need to be easy to reach for them. Otherwise, it's done.) The reason I have chosen to do this is because I am an extremely relational person & Facebook turned me into an uncaring, uninvolved person. It was destroying who I am at the core. I am an in-your-face, first-to-hug, will-cry-with-you-through-everything person. I can't do that on Facebook. I became cynical & disconnected. God showed me that the unique gifts He gave me were being stifled through Facebook.

Geoff Cocanower said...

Thanks Shelley! It is amazing what can happen when we recognize the need to be in reality every once in a while!