Real intimacy is uncommon, especially in our social media culture. We might like to think that we are experiencing a deep level of intimacy on social media, but it is never as deep as what happens in person. The reason is very simple: relationships built around more mediated forms of communication are generally more surface level. When you have a face-to-face conversation with someone, your mind brilliantly picks up on all the nuances that would otherwise be missed online (or FaceTime). Almost on a subconscious level, you are picking up on the amount of wrinkles around the eyes of a smile, which indicates whether the smile was genuine or not. Your mind is reading the body language and drawing conclusions. There are hundreds of subtle things happening when people talk in person that, when added up, lead to a real moment together. The brain starts firing in excitement as it experiences the physical proximity combined with real feelings. The biggest advantage, however, is the sustained nature of this exchange. When we email, text, or post a comment online, there is a natural break in the conversation – even if its only seconds. That time of waiting for a response hampers the free flowing beauty of face-to-face conversation. Even the pauses in face-to-face conversation communicate something important. A pause online or over the network could just mean: “I’m driving and could not text back right now.”
Just to be clear, I'm not anti-technology. You are, after all, reading this on my blog. I know that real conversations can happen online, over the phone, etc. Perhaps you are reading this and you could testify to having met your spouse originally online. All of that is great. However, I'm just trying to say that face-to-face communication trumps mediated forms of communication. If that is not coming across clearly, perhaps it's because we are not having this conversation in person :)
Furthermore, I’m struck by 1 Samuel 18:1 that talks about “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” How many relationships in our lives could we say have experienced that level of intimacy? Instead we have traded in intimate relationships for mediated online relationships. I long to see the “table” make a comeback. A beautiful wood table covered over time in a finish of crayons, tears, and homegrown food. A table that is pounded on after a hilarious joke is told. A table that overhears announcements of college acceptance, engagements, and pregnancies. A table that is known for being the place where souls are knit together.