The power of authentic friendship

June 14th, 2018

Released this spring, the dystopian science fiction movie, Ready Player One, was adapted from a New York Times bestseller novel written by Ernest Cline. The story occurs in the year 2045, a time when the real world is so miserable that people escape in the Oasis, a virtual reality universe. When the creator of the Oasis passes away, he reveals his fortune to whomever can find a digital Easter egg hidden in the Oasis. Teenager Wade Watts is an unlikely but fierce contestant in the competition; but he quickly realizes he can’t win without the help of his friends. However, all of Wade’s friends are digital representations of people he’s only met in the Oasis. He must navigate his online friendships with his real-world friendships.

Real world reality

The idea of swapping present-day for virtual reality isn’t just science fiction. Young people spend on average six-plus hours a day on a screen. The rate of depression, anxiety and suicide are increasing among teenagers and, coincidentally, so is screen time. Teens spend more time online and less time interacting in person with friends. Does it truly matter if interactions are face-to-face or texting through a screen? Absolutely! According to research reported by the Washington Post, teens who spend more time online and less physical time with friends are more likely to be depressed. Social isolation is a major risk factor for suicide. Personal interaction is incredibly powerful for our overall well-being.

Spiritual reality

In the movie, Wade Watts discovers how much better life is when he connects with his friends in the real world. Communicating with others through technology isn’t terrible, but it shouldn’t replace face-to-face time with our friends. Our virtual time will never satisfy our relational need to be physically present with others. God designed us to need and be empowered by the physical presence of others. 

Question of the day: What do you and your friends spend the most time doing together?
Focal scriptures: John 15:13-17; 1 Samuel 18:1-5; 20:30-42; Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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