Danger in Digital Dust

In our electronic world of texts and instagram, conversation tends to get left in the digital dust.  Condensing relationships to tweets and texts often shortcuts the heartfelt encouragement or support of friendship.  Yet this is the world we live in and simply dismissing or dissing it doesn't truly address practical reality.

Can we capture the convenience of instant communication and couple it with the deep realization that conversations matter because people matter?

In the past several weeks two friends entered eternity unexpectedly and I was reminded again that only two things last forever: people and the word of God. People matter to you and me and to God.  How we relate each person in our world is of ultimate importance to eternity.

C. S. Lewis, always able to express his thoughts in timeless ways, reminds us    “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

These are the people we relate to in our personal world.  I wonder if realizing their eternal value might shape our digital communication, driving us perhaps to greater respect and care in our words.  In grieving the death of my friends, I was thankful that we had spoken in recent days and reconnected “live.” I think my sorrow would have been deeper had my only connection been digital. 

And in our digital communications it is far too easy to zap hasty words that hurt in ways that would likely never be spoken face to face. And hopefully we are all aware of the danger of inappropriate instagrams which live forever in cyberspace. Every new gadget and innovation becomes a tool, one we can use to build or to destroy.  Bearing in mind that the recipients of my digital words are not “ordinary people” but each created in God’s image should shape my words.  Paul’s words provide editorial direction for our digital conversations: "You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, (or fingers) but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29.

Let's let our digital dust reflect words of life, not death.

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.