Wherever you are, be there!

Summer is almost here! No doubt many readers are looking forward to their holiday; a couple of weeks in the sun, exploring beautiful countryside or one of the thousands of great towns and cities around the world. Will you be sending a postcard to friends and family saying “Wish you were here”?

Increasingly the traditional postcard is being replaced by social media. A picture on Facebook or Instagram means that those back home can share the experience of your holiday with you; even comment on your selfie with a landmark like the Eiffel Tower in the back ground just moments after it is taken. Therefore, why bother to send a postcard which will be old news when it arrives, possibly after you yourself get home!

Over the last few months I have read numerous articles[i] warning of the dangers of technology overtaking our lives, reducing our ability to concentrate or to engage meaningfully with the people and environment we find ourselves in. These are not articles written by luddites or technophobes; often they are written by articulate, young technophiles. There is a growing recognition that technology, far from deepening relationships, has a tendency to make communication superficial and reduce our attention span. Some have experimented with a ‘digital detox’ – deliberately reducing their social media interactions. Invariably this produces an initial sense of anxiety as they fight the compulsion to continually check Facebook or Twitter. Gradually, as the withdrawal symptoms subside, they report rediscovering the enjoyment of family relationships, becoming more appreciative of the natural beauty of what is around them.

No doubt you would be gutted to miss a key event, such as a wedding, for someone you cared deeply about. Yet tragically many of us miss out on much of our own lives because we are distracted by a 4inch screen! We may be physically present, yet not really be there. As you look forward to your summer holiday will your only memories be those mediated by a camera lens and Facebook, or will you relish each moment. Will the technology enhance the experience, or will it become the experience. Some may choose to disconnect completely from the digital world for a week or two while they are away. That may seem unrealistic for most of us. Regardless of what you decide remember:

Wherever you are, be there!


This blog post featured in the June 2014 edition of Hook Focus


[i] Be off, you Facebook demons. I’m on a digital detox – Josh Glancy:  http://thetim.es/1jXljg9 ,

I admit it. I’m bereft when my iPhone’s out of sight – Janice Turner:  http://thetim.es/QF30kz ,

Numb Generations – Kara Powell: http://youtu.be/1tI24zUrcTY


Will you be my facebook friend? – by Tim Chester

WillYouBeMyFacebookFriend Many of us now inhabit two worlds: the online world which exists through a whole variety of social network media such as Facebook, and the physical offline world. Even those people who never use a computer will have an online existence as a result of the legitimate actions of others. Many are concerned about the impact that online relationships are having on offline relationships. For example more than a third of UK divorce filings in 2011 contained the word ‘Facebook’! How do we respond to this as followers of Jesus? Is social networking an intrinsic evil we should avoid or can it be a useful tool for the gospel?

This helpful little booklet explores some of the underlying issues behind social media: image, identity, idolatry and self-promotion to mention a few. Dr Tim Chester addresses these in a clear and concise manner, drawing upon pastoral and biblical wisdom. He asks questions to help us evaluate the impact of Facebook on our lives and concludes the book with 12 guidelines that he recommends to keep it in an appropriate place in our lives.

  1. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people concerned in the room.
  2. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t share publicly with your Christian community.
  3. Ensure your online world is visible to your offline Christian community.
  4. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.
  5. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t match their offline self.
  6. Use social networking to enhance real-world relationships, not to replace them.
  7. Don’t let children have unsupervised Internet access or accept as online friends people you don’t know offline.
  8. Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you accountable to these.
  9. Set aside a day a week as a technology ‘Sabbath’ or ‘fast’.
  10. Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other activities, especially reading, praying, worshipping and relating.
  11. Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom.
  12. Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone) communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication.

Buy Will you be my Facebook Friend? from Amazon UK
Buy Will you be my Facebook Friend? from Amazon US