What the Internet Cannot Offer
“The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share in its joy.” This is a proverb in the Bible.
Recently, there has been much discussion on the internet about loneliness. For the digitally connected, have our relationships grown closer, or have we become more disconnected?
Perhaps we might ask, doesn’t the internet bring together people of the same interests, thinking, and needs? Haven’t we found the antidote to loneliness? But we forget that what people need is not more people, but to care and be cared for. This requires paying a price.
When was the last time you received a letter? Not an e-mail, but a physical letter sent through the mail.
I still remember those days when I would sit at my desk with a pen in hand, scribbling word by word a letter to someone. For this letter, I had to go to the bookstore to search the shelves for a suitable stationery. My pen might have seemed ordinary, but as I wrote every word, I felt as if I had poured my soul into the letter. This was how I paid the price; within the limits of my time and capacity, I had given my best.
The internet cannot offer that which requires affectionate love. When a husband and his wife communicate with each other through both of their screens, from different corners of the world, they are not moved to tears because of the HD resolution of FaceTime; they are moved to tears because of the bond they share, a bond that cannot be separated by time and space. The grandparents, while looking at the smiling face of their grandchild on the camera, are not merely witnessing a new life, they are musing over how the father beside that baby was once a child himself. They wonder — when did their son become old enough to have a child of his own? The tragedies in today’s society are wrapped under the fancy façade of modern technologies, and these simple and touching moments are lost, never to be found, even through Facebook’s search engine.
Paul wrote in his epistle: “Yearning in this way over you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us” (1 Thes. 2:8). “Because of this we were comforted because of you, brothers, in all our necessity and affliction, through your faith. Because now we live if you stand firm in the Lord” (1 Thes. 3:7-8). In the church today, there are many Pauls. They do not need Facebook accounts, because they touch our hearts directly. Here there is love. Here there is life. This was Paul paying the price for the church. This is why we treasure this kind of living.
“And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member is glorified, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). This is the truth in the Bible.