It seems difficult to imagine, but there was once a time when human beings did not feel the need to share every waking moment with hundreds of millions, even billions, of complete and utter strangers. If one went to a shopping mall to purchase an article of clothing, one did not post minute-by-minute details on a social networking site; and if one made a fool of oneself at a party, one did not leave a photographic record of the sorry episode in a digital scrapbook that would survive for all eternity. But now, in the era of lost inhibition, it seemed no detail of life was too mundane or humiliating to share. In the online age, it was more important to live out loud than to live with dignity. Internet followers were more treasured than flesh-and-blood friends, for they held the illusive promise of celebrity, even immortality. Were Descartes alive today, he might have written: I tweet, therefore I am. (Daniel Silva, The Heist, 2014).
When I read these words in Daniel Silva’s novel this weekend and could not help but pause to consider their relevance during Advent. Do you treasure the “flesh-and-blood friends” in your life more than your social network connections with people you’ve never met or shared an “enfleshed” conversation with that led you to love them deeply? Jesus came into the world as “flesh-and-blood.” Let us celebrate and remember this central truth during these days. Enjoy the friendships you make online but treasure more those you know in the flesh. I have made good friends online, and someday I hope to meet them in person. But my close friendships are those I share in my daily life.