by Kenneth Justice
~At coffee recently a couple sat down next to me and began slobbering all over each other….obviously they were new lovers because the lines they were saying to each other couldn’t have been any more corny;
—) “Oh sweetheart, you’re more beautiful than the setting sun”
—) “Oh honey, when I hear you voice it sends chills through my body”
—) “You have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen, even your fingernails are absolutely incredible”
And no…I’m not making any of that up. When the man told the woman how beautiful her fingernails were it took a lot of strength not to laugh out loud. When you’re newly in love everything about the other person excites you. When you are apart from each other, you count the minutes until you next meet.
One of the unique elements in the human experience throughout Western Culture is the way we do relationships. Dating is clearly a Western phenomenon. While other cultures in recent decades have begun practicing the art of dating, most cultures throughout Asia and Africa practiced arranged marriages for most of history.
What really struck me about the couple sitting next to me at coffee was not how corny their lines were; but how much excitement they got out of telling each other what they were feeling.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is not complete until its expressed”. And isn’t that why so many people blog; because we want to express the joy we feel about something;
—) People write poetry to express their feelings
—) People write about their job to express what is going on
—) People talk about their travels to share their experiences
And as we write and talk about what we are seeing and feeling….it somehow heightens the joy we are experiencing so much more so than had we kept silent. How many of us leave a movie theater and call up a friend to say, “Wow, I just saw an awesome film!” I have friends who will be sitting at home watching a sporting event who call me up to excitedly say, “Kenneth, were you watching the game? Did you see that incredible play? It was awesome!” If you attend a sporting event, if the team you are rooting for wins the game you will most likely find yourself cheering with strangers and talking to strangers about how excited you are.
Expressing joy is a central part of the human experience, and expressing sadness is equally as important; when we talk and write about the difficult times of life it somehow helps us work through the experience. Talking with a friend about a death in our family helps us to cope with the pain of losing our loved one. Crying to a friend about a recent divorce or breakup helps us work through the varied emotions that are coursing through our veins.
Sharing experiences with each other is an integral component of a healthy society……and understanding this phenomenon explains what is going on with social networking. You see, a lot of people are mystified as to why people use social networks to tell the world what they ate for breakfast or what they just purchased at a store…..but if we realize that there is a thirst within our soul to share our experiences with others; we begin to realize why social media has taken such a prominent place in our society.
Western culture has experienced a breakdown in close relationships. People are less social in our day than in past decades. The average person rarely talks to their neighbor who lives in the apartment next door. And so, since there has been a breakdown in the level of community we experience; people turn to social media as an outlet for expressing joy.
Of course, many of us realize that social networks are a poor substitute for meeting with a friend at a café to have a cup of coffee. While the 90’s saw a surge in the number of independent cafés and coffee houses that opened up….the 21st century has seen a bit of a decline. Perhaps the decline in cafés is connected to the rise in social media. Perhaps people are using social media too often; instead of calling up a friend to get coffee.
I’ve said before that one of the reasons I prefer blogging over Facebook is that it allows me to complete a more deeper thought. Instead of a 140 character Twitter update…..I can type out a more varied article on the deeper meanings of life. I try to be careful though not to bash Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social networks. They each can serve a positive purpose…..as long as we don’t allow them to replace the things that matter most.
I do wonder though, how many of us are leaning too heavily on social networks….when we should instead be picking up our phone to ask a friend out to coffee? How many of us have allowed social networks to become our social crutch? How many of us have become too comfortable sitting at our desk in front of a laptop, or sitting in bed with our tablet?
I’m glad I happen to be at a café at the moment because it happens to be time for another coffee.
Categories: Culture & Society