This morning my sister sent our family a discourse from Elder David A. Bednar at BYU-Idaho in 2009. In the talk, he references the power of our human bodies and how much Satan desires to attack these bodies. He is never going to receive a body and with a body is a key step to our eternal progression in becoming like our Heavenly Parents. My sister pointed out that this talk was extremely relevant today. As I listened to it, it stood out to me how important the human connection is. As we have had to endure social distancing and a more digital world over the course of our current pandemic our connection of human relationships is as important today as it has ever been.
I am blessed with a wonderful family. With four children, we have a lot going on. This period of at-home opportunity has helped us to grow together. However, we still long to expand our sphere of influence. Our children we’re certainly excited to go back to school to be around their peers.
It is easy for us to get caught up in social relationships that are based on likes and comment threads. Many hide behind false aliases on social feeds and in video game worlds. By utilizing false aliases we feel as though we are able to be someone different. We are able to say or do things that we likely would never say or do in the real world. Standing up for who we are both online and in public is a crucial part of our eternal progress. We cannot think that we can be something different in an online world than we are in real life. We should be Christlike in every way.
Being Christlike certainly extends beyond our homes. During His life, Jesus did not hide in a cave and record letters and lectures for others to read. Yes, it is important for us to write and record, that is exactly what I am doing right now. But Jesus set an example of being among people. His ministry was among people.
With our current restrictions, it is hard for us to be among people like we once were. We are striving to socially distance, we cover our faces to protect others, and we often are working, shopping, and worshipping from home. This form of human isolation can take its toll on all of us. We crave the human connection. We long to be in the presence of others. I often find myself going to the store during the day just to be around other humans. I feel this craving for connection.
Technology blesses us to connect in ways that have not been even imaginably possible even decades ago let alone centuries and millennia. However, we need to make sure that we are using these to connect and uplift and not to tear down, contend, or demean. Elder Bednar warned us by stating,
“I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls.”
It is important for us to find real human interactions and connections. If we build our friendships solely online then we lose the connections that we are meant to have in mortality. There is more than just how many friends, or likes, or comments we get. I have struggled with social media. I have tried to use it to further my personal brand at times, but I get caught up in that world. I get lost in comparing myself to others. It is stifling to me. I have decided that it is not that important.
Elder Bednar expresses the value of real relationships;
“However, putting at risk the very instrument God has given us to receive the learning experiences of mortality—merely to pursue a thrill or some supposed fun, to bolster ego, or to gain acceptance—truly minimizes the importance of our physical bodies.
“Sadly, some young men and young women in the Church today ignore ’things as they really are’ and neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value. My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing. A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games. As the Lord declared, ‘Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment … : Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known’ (D&C 60:13).”
It is easy to get lost in the cyber world. It becomes easier as we have less real human interactions. As we learn to focus on our human connections in real life we are able to grow. This growth is necessary for our eternal progress. We are here to learn how to connect, discuss, love, serve, and interact interpersonally. This should always go beyond the digital. We all need a little more humanity, today as much as ever.
Let’s continue to use this time to grow closer to our families and not substitute tangible relationships with the virtual. By staying connected and communicating as much in reality as we can will help us to remain connected as a human race.
It is when we interact with others that our empathy for them increases. The more we learn about how others live the more we are willing and able to serve and love them. When I did interfaith work at the University I saw this firsthand for myself and for others. By interacting with others we become more keenly aware of their joys and their pains. We can then help resolve the conflict but understanding the differences between us.
We ought to connect by building bridges of understanding not walls of separation. Let’s all improve our communion with humanity no matter religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, or age. We need each other. We need unity.