They nurture friendships on social-networking sites and then wonder if they are among friends. They are connected all day but are not sure if they have communicated. They become confused about companionship. Can they find it in their lives on the screen? Could they find it with a robot? Their digitized friendships played out with emoticon emotions, so often predicated on rapid response rather than reflection-may prepare them, at times through nothing more than their superficiality, for relationships with the inanimate. They come to accept lower expectations for connection and, finally, the idea that robot friendships could be sufficient unto the day.
The above quote is taken from MIT Professor Sherry Turkle's book Alone Together. The video above is an overview of her book. As a psychologist, her assessment of social media and the introduction of MIT's development of service oriented social robots is fascinating. What is almost more fascinating is desire to retain traditional relationships, a desire that is void of a Biblical foundation.
As Christians, we understand relationship to be at the core of humanity. In God's perfect creation the only imperfect thing was the fact that Adam was alone. God creates a divine pause within the Creation story, what can be said as a highlight to the fact that relationships are paramount to human existence and purpose. There is a similar divine pause as one reflects on the denial and reinstatement of Peter during the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Jesus makes a very distinct point to highlight that salvation didn't just exist for mankind, but that it exists for individual people, people who have a relationship with God.
In his follow-up book, Hurt 2.0, Chap Clark makes a startling connection with social connection and social media.
The young have not arrogantly turned their backs on the adult world. Rather, they have been forced by a personal sense of abandonment to band together and create their own world—separate, semisecret, and vastly different from the world around them...Gaming is not always driven by the desire to win but to be part of a gaming community. Similarly, drinking is not about drinking but about community. We have abandoned this generation of young people and they long more than ever for communal celebration.
Many times when promoting Hillcrest eyebrows are raised at the technology policies within the dormitory. Some struggle to understand why we desire to curb technology in our school and dormitory. The reason isn't because we want to hinder students from developing an understanding of the technology. Instead, we desire to create an environment of contemplation and deep personal relationship with Image-bearers of God.
One of the aspects that makes Hillcrest successful in developing meaningful relationships is the 9:1 student to teacher ratio and the almost 6:1 student-to-adult ratio in the hallways. We encourage parents to take time and visit our hallways and chapel services to fully-grasp the reality of adult presence and mentor voice that is a priority for HLA.
The mentorship and presence of adults helps guide the students away from a self-indulgent view of society and moves them toward a God-honoring interaction with their friends, family and community. Meaningful adult influence, what students experience at HLA, guides them to live a life of significance.