Why Friends are Better In Person Than Online

Recently I’ve noticed that my Facebook feed’s been filled up with a lot of people’s frustrations. I’m not just talking about whining and complaining — though there’s a lot of that — I’m also talking about political, social, financial, spiritual and relational frustrations. What’s interesting is that so much of it comes across as trivial when I read it between Buzzfeed links and quizes revealing which Simpson you’d be.

Let me give you an example. This morning I saw an online friend’s post from the night before saying something like “just want to let everyone know I’m ready to give up.” Who knows what the person meant — how could you really — but it seems like a pretty serious thing to say. It was cool because 20 different people commented on the status encouraging the person to “hang in there,” “give it to God” and “never give up” but what was missing in that was a personal connection. In fact the original “poster” of the status never even replied to the comments.

In the old days in order to “share” something with someone you had to do it face to face. There had to be an actual in person interaction and there’s a power to this that we don’t necessarily value anymore. The primary value is that you’re with someone else — very literally in someone else’s presence expressing the darkest, hardest most frustrating things you’re going through — and they are able to hug you or cry with you or better understand why it’s hard or challenge you when you’re just being a baby or pray with you for God’s power and presence. These are the things that you really need when you’re walking through the most difficult emotions (or circumstances) be it personal, political or spiritual.

I would argue that the need to “vent” or “get things off our chest” is actually God given but it’s meant to drive us towards each other not express a thought or emotion in isolation. Don’t believe the hype — friends are better in person than online.

(originally published in March of 2015)