Some people would say that we are more connected to the world than ever, but I wonder if this is really true. I heard a statistic this week that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens. That tragic information made me pause. Why would teens, in a world full of options, choose to end their lives?
What are kids connected to? Or disconnected from? They are connected to the vast information web, they are connected to sound bytes, superficial relationships built on Facebook and Twitter, they are connected to pictures, images, sounds, but too often, disconnected to what is happening right in front of them.
It is hard to distinguish “real world” vs “false world,” but I think there is a truth here which we, as a human family, should investigate. Personally, it comes down to what actually feeds us – spiritually and physically. “You shall be known by your fruit…” I do not get fed by Facebook interactions. I do not feel seriously connected on Twitter. Even e-mail has it’s limitations. It is not to say that these technological innovations don’t have their purpose and value. But it is to ask: “What are we crowding out when we engage in them to the exclusion of other forms of human communication and interaction?”
When I took my kids to the lake yesterday and they ran around watching the geese and ducks, sat and enjoyed the sun setting over the water, and played tag down a wooded path, they engaged in a real-world reality check. They absorbed a truth which cannot be improved upon. Joy and health seeped into their beings.
When I go outside and work in the garden, when I take a walk down a country road, when I sit and chat face to face with someone, even a stranger, I engage in a real-world reality check that cannot be replaced by any technological gadget.
I wonder if that is why some television programs have become so weird. They are reflecting that absence, that disconnect, that xeroxed print, which has been copied too often and become anemic and a little warped in the process.
Perhaps what our teens need is a little more time with natural reality, not “reality” shows. Perhaps what some writers need is to reflect human beings and our real world, and not slap stick, word-bytes meant to get a laugh or jerk a tear.
Perhaps, reality isn’t meant to lead to suicide.
Mortality Among Teenagers Aged 12-19 Years: United States, 1999-2006. (2010). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db37.htm