Even though we're more connected virtually than ever before, why do so many people feel increasingly disconnected from deep and rewarding relationships?
One week from today, NYTimes bestselling authors and church leaders Kerry and Chris Shook -- along with 20,000 members of their Woodlands Church near Houston -- will begin to answer that question during the National Facebook Fast, a movement to disconnect from social media and any form of electronic communication -- i.e. chatting on Facebook, tweeting, texting, e-mailing, cell phones, laptops, ipads, etc. -- on Wednesday, August 25 and spend the day getting face-to-face in relationships.
"We aren't bashing technology; we're simply issuing a challenge for participants to take one day, set it aside and act intentionally in their relationships. For one day we're getting back to the basics and we're inviting everyone around the nation to do the same," say the couple, who have four children, adding, "If you have to rely on these methods for schoolwork or business, of course do so, but outside of that, get unplugged."
In this age of short attention spans and digital distractions, the theme of the fast is "Be All There."
In their new book, "Love At Last Sight: 30 Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships," the Shooks advocate periodic technology fasts as they take on pop culture myths about building and sustaining true relationships in a hyper-connected world.
"Modern communication is great, but far too often it is becoming a complete substitute for actually sitting down and spending time with people, which is so important in building deep connections. A quick email note, text message or picture shared on a web page is wonderful, but it's not the same as being there."
The Shooks believe that social networking has redefined what "friend" means creating the false expectation that if we are connected to huge numbers of people, we are important and loved. It has also created the misperception that even our closest relationships can be managed through keyboard and mouse clicks, or at least should be as easy and convenient as doing so.
"We're forgetting the amazing power of connection found in looking into someone's eyes, giving them our undivided attention, sensing their body language, and being in their space. Or, the transformative effect of an embrace, a handshake, or a hand on someone's shoulder. As much as we want to tell ourselves otherwise, rewarding and healthy relationships take time and effort."
On Wednesday, August 25, the Shooks recommend meeting up with a friend for a face-to-face conversation, planning a family dinner night without the TV on and all other electronic communication devices off, visiting a neighbor you've never met to get acquainted, taking a meal to a shut-in, visiting someone in the hospital, or writing and mailing a handwritten letter or card.
For details and Facebook Fast video, visit www.lastsightchallenge.com. The Shooks and participants are available for interviews. B-roll available upon request.