Connections in a Digital Age

Lately, I have been ruminating on the idea of connection in a digital world. I live and love via technology in so many ways: teaching online, skyping overseas, messaging across hundreds and thousands of miles, even forming new relationships through a screen.

Mediated life can be a fascinating thing. We reveal ourselves through technology in ways that sometimes allow for deep connection. Often it brings us closer. And it can make resulting face-to-face communication richer as well.

But it’s also isolating. Sometimes the quick text exchanges suddenly drop off. Sometimes the calls are infrequent. Sometimes the connection is a wisp and you will miss it if you aren’t paying attention.

I want to pay attention.

My thoughts on these things are fragmented. How is it that I have formed a deep friendship, a valuable and intimately personal connection, with a person I have only met once for a few hours over coffee? How do I put my gratefulness for such a thing onto paper? And how do I tell the stories of the days that have sparked my soul? Or the ache of longing that comes with a connection that is ultimately temporary? How do I measure the worth of such things? I have no cohesive words.

And so I turn to a different form of speaking today, a way to try to convey the ebb and flow of relational connection while reaching for the reason that I continue to strive forward in this life.

 

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We stand in an empty room, darkened
The city shines, a beautiful mute before us.
I am homeless in a home, he whispers.
The world is full of broken things.

Words fly across voids, mediated screens
Connection and separation
Pain and joy deep in loneliness
I live with intensity
In the place between darkness and peace.

I met a dead end boy,
Who staunchly knew his life would lose me
Hoping but not moving to a different outcome
Longing for a life he could never have,
Letting me wash over and away from him.

I do not understand the moment when it happens,
A boy who is searching and how he sees me
I only know that meaning is created when
Secrets of broken dreams are shared quietly,
Typed and connected across the spaces.

He blusters and postures,
Hiding loss that others don’t look to see
And I peer through the unspoken to a man
Not so very different, not so very whole.
He leaves the shading of himself etched on me
As we become more ourselves.

The fire that lights within me
That is myself, but also the One I know
It is a beacon that breaks
Into the hollows of souls
And I tighten their secrets to me.

We have a connection of affliction, a union of panic.
The slip of the curtain of humor,
And his anxiety looks into mine, and he says,
Do you ever wonder if anyone will truly cherish this?
Can they look past this body and know me?
Do you ever fear the loss of what we cannot fix?
Every day.

And I know I am only there, fleetingly:
Words poured out, and then they are gone,
The intersection of souls across silence.
But I know what I have and what I am
I know I have been changed
By the broken things, by choosing to love
By choosing to listen, by giving of myself.
It is the simplest, hardest thing.

 

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