Elizabeth, Ronnell, Osemome, Zachary & Tynea

We are tired of hearing how “screens will rot our brains” and how “teens don’t look up from their phones anymore.” But the presence we carefully craft for ourselves (online and IRL) often consumes our thoughts. So how can we use both social media and real-life interactions to create and strengthen authentic relationships?


be real

Social media has allowed voices to be amplified around the world, relationships to transcend geographical boundaries, and news to spread like wildfire when it needs to most. It also makes readily available those posts that can leave us thinking we need to change or aching with loneliness. Instead of second-guessing ourselves, let’s be real. I challenge you to post without editing your life, to speak your mind without worrying what others think, to wear what makes you comfortable rather than what’s fashionable, and to be honest with God. As we let go of the need to be perfect and we accept who we are, we can learn to love one another as Christ loves us.

—Elizabeth Ingeneri, 19


form deeper connections

At 16 I was a social butterfly, flitting from one friend group to another. But when I faced a crisis, I realized these “friends” were actually a bunch of acquaintances. I didn’t have anyone I felt I could confide in. During this lonely time in my life, I realized that I needed to make a change. I began by letting many of those surface relationships fade into the background as I developed a few strong friendships. The result was incredible. Finally, I had people with whom I could be real and whom I could encourage as well.

—Ronnell Gibson


connect beyond a like

I was shocked to hear that an ever-happy friend was going through a tough time. I had no idea. I didn’t see her struggle in her happy pictures posted online and boosted by likes and comments. I wondered if I would have noticed it if I had seen her face-to-face or heard it in her voice if I had called.

Social media friendships cannot begin to wade through the depths of off-line relationships. How genuine can we be on a platform where we can’t see the way others react? How can we be honest in a forum where records are etched forever in cyberspace? By all means, relate with your friends on social media. But every so often, communicate beyond a like or an emoji. Make the effort to visit, to call, or to pray with someone today.

—Osemome Ndebbio


do life together

Loneliness is such a terrifying condition that we will do almost anything to escape it. We join more clubs, find more Instagram followers, or get more involved in “church things.” But even in these crowds, we still can feel lonely. We long for fellowship. Simply put, fellowship is participating in life with another. When we fellowship with God, we join in an active relationship with our Maker. The same is true when we fellowship with others. We do life together.

—Zachary Kralik



Pray: God, we need people to sit across the table from us at a coffee shop. We need people to wrap their arms around us when we experience disappointing news. We need people to see the truth in our eyes when we lie and say everything is OK. Help me to be a friend to someone who needs a friend. Help me to cultivate authentic relationships. Amen.

—Tynea Lewis

—from devozine (September/October 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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