“You have a friend request” – Outreach Media

Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Thoughts | 1 comment

The latest poster from Outreach Media is a play on the terminology arising from social media such as FaceBook. It reads “You have a friend request” and features an upward pointing hand in the style of a FaceBook “like” icon. Just who are they targeting here, and what is their intention?

You have a friend request

The article accompanying the poster is telling us that the relationships forged online, while fun, are not real relationships, and that instead of seeking the company of strangers online we should be seeking a “real friendship with God”. Well I have a few thoughts on this, let’s look at a few.

I have friends. They come in different flavours and shapes, different beliefs and creeds, from differing backgrounds, countries and cities. Some a re closer to me than others, some I truly love, some are more like friendly acquaintances. They all, however, are in one of two forms; IRL friends (or “in real life”, a term which I hate because it makes the other alternative seem fake), or virtual friends (this term is also not good because they are real friends in a “virtual” environment). True, people online come and go. The same can be said of friendships forged offline. But a long-term relationship whether it be online or off is still a real relationship, a lot can be shared with a person in words alone, look at letter-writing before the advent of the Internet, and the relationships forged and maintained in that manner historically. Are these not real because the exchanges take place on paper and over distance? Well, I’m sure there’s a psychological difference, and someone probably wrote a paper about it once upon a time, but in essence, it’s just a different way to communicate, an it’s just as real as talking to someone at your local grocery store.

The article uses examples of celebrities, and how “popular” they are in social media, such as Spongebob Squarepants, Barack Obama and Eminem. It then draws the conclusion that these “friends” who “like” you wouldn’t be willing to die for you. Well, no, of course not. Death is the ultimate sacrifice, sure enough, but is the true measure of a friend whether they would lay down their lives for you? Well no not really, it has more to do with being there for the other, supporting and offering help where one can. To say that God is a better friend than my best online friend is a lie, because God is never there for me when I need help, and this is because there is nothing to suggest that God even exists.

So the poster seems to imply that the only relationship you “need” is one with God. What about relationships with real flesh and blood people? Is it more important to have a relationship with God than to have relationships with other people, whether that be online or in person?

As I’ve discussed before, God seems to be whatever the person thinking of God wants him to be, and he seems to also carry the same prejudices that the god seeker has. Just like the Westbro Baptists claim on their posters “GOD HATES FAGS!”

So i guess it comes down to what you are looking for in a relationship. If all you want is a friend that you can’t see, can’t hear, and lends nothing to the conversation, then God’s your guy.

This campaign is aimed at a younger generation, the one that uses FaceBook like an older generation uses the telephone, with the preconceived idea that people who use social media are devoid of real relationships in their lives. This is not to say that these people don’t exist, but they are not the majority. Most people do have real relationships offline, and most people don’t spend all their time on social media. For those that do, maybe if it’s a point of social contact they think they need, the answer is not God, but getting off the computer and socializing with real people. Put down that iPhone, close the laptop, get outside and enjoy your life. You only get one shot at it. Make your relationships count.

You can have real and tangible relationships with people online, and at least you know that there are real people on the other end. With God however you are whispering into the void, and there is no way to know if there’s someone there.

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1 Comment

  1. I need to put my glasses on more often. My first thought looking at that poster was that it was giving me the finger….:-P

    The poster is a lame attempt to attract young people to religion, as you point out, Martin. Nothing can substitute for my real life friends, they are very important in my life; they may not die for me, but they can save my life, many times over, just being there for me, making me laugh, helping me to deal with stress, pushing me to keep healthy, active, and mentally challenged. My online friends are important, too, because they also help me in a similar manner, at times. But in any case, even a remote online friend I “talk” to once in a while, is way better than a non-existent being who is constantly being used to traumatize children with hell, to repress with the idea of sin, to create false morality, to subjugate women, to discriminate against gay people, etc.

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