I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in relationships lately, and I’m concerned. So I’m wondering… is it just me? Or has anyone else noticed this too?
People seem to be throwing one another away. Sometimes, it’s just a conversation they aren’t enjoying. Sometimes, it’s the whole friendship.
With cell phones, texting, voice mail, instant messaging, Facebook and MySpace, it would appear that connecting with another person is easier than ever. And yet, I’m wondering if instead, people are becoming more distant.
There seems to be a change in perception. The person at the other end of whatever communication device you happen to be using becomes an icon, not a living, breathing, feeling human being. Don’t like the way the conversation is going? Stop responding to their texts. Tired of the friendship? Delete them from your contact list. Un-friend them on Facebook. No need to work through difficult issues. No need to consider anyone else’s feelings. No need to even say good-bye.
While it may be convenient to so easily eliminate problems in relationships, we’re actually hurting not just the other person, but ourselves as well. When we run away instead of investing time and effort into solving a predicament, we lose an opportunity to become more like Jesus. Perhaps we need to learn forgiveness. Or God is telling us that we take offense too easily. Maybe we’re being taught to love difficult people, or to communicate more effectively, or… the list goes on and on. God never misses a chance to improve us.
And then, of course, there’s the obvious issue of treating others as we would want to be treated. How does it feel to suddenly be ignored? Devalued? To lose a friend? At the very least, the other person deserves to be told that we no longer want to be friends with them.
A close friend of ours reached out in friendship to several different people with the same results. In every case, the other person expressed interest in reciprocating that friendship. Things seemed to go well for months. Time was invested, thoughts were shared, intimacy was being built between them. And then the other person stopped responding. In some cases, an event precipitated the silence. In other cases, no discernable cause could be found. Phone calls simply went unanswered, messages weren’t returned, texts fell into a black hole. With so many ways of communicating, it’s impossible to assume that these attempts at contact weren’t received. Rather, they were intentionally ignored. Needless to say, our friend was badly hurt.
The best way I can illustrate this is to let our friend tell you, in his own eloquent words, how it feels to be deleted. He’ll be my guest blogger next time.