What Happens When You Look Beyond the Camera

Let’s talk about Vlogs. I kind of dig them. I’m way more interested in them than I should be. I’m fascinated by other people’s lives. I have a similar affinity for reality TV. The more candid someone is in front of the camera, the better, and talking to the camera like there’s a real person on the other end, even better.

But here’s why I watch them with a guilty feeling. They are a monologue, not a conversation.

We are living in a time when it’s easier to talk to a camera than to another human being. But it’s not just Vlogs. There are so many ways people can express their honest opinions without having an actual human being in front of them. Blogging, for one. I can write a monologue without ever considering the thoughts and ideas of my audience. I can say anything I want to the internet with very few ramifications for me. I can comment, post, share photos with no real dialogue with another human. So yeah, I’m guilty of that.

This blogging and social media world has made me a bit of a self-centered person (yes, I’m blaming my selfishness on the internet). I feel a little more validated every time I get a like or comment on social media. I compose clever captions in my mind every time I take a picture. I feel like I haven’t really experienced something until the world hears about it on the world wide web.

I was born right on the cusp of the Millennial generation, and I like to think I avoided the characteristic ascribed to this generation (sorry, millennials). But to be honest, I get sucked into the “me-centered” way of thinking. This feeling that the world revolves around me and the image of myself that I create. And if there’s someone I don’t like in my internet social circles, I can block them and pretend they don’t exist. Neat and tidy!


But the truth is, real relationships are messy. It takes work to look beyond ourselves and truly see others. It takes tact and winsomeness (two things I lack) to express ourselves in a loving way. It takes patience to really listen.

It’s hard to be a good listener. Empathy is in short supply these days and it’s so much easier to scroll a news feed than to really listen to someone’s story. Think how much easier it is for us to sit in our proverbial ivory towers and judge someone because of what they’re posting than to actually reach out to them or pray for them.

What would it take for us to look up and really see the people in front of us? Honestly, it might cost some heartache, mistakes, and misunderstandings. Real people are complicated and relationships can be difficult. We might have to forgive and be forgiven in return.

But what do we stand to gain? Meaningful conversations that open our eyes to another way of thinking. Deeper friendships that challenge and encourage us. A truer love than any like button can offer.

And maybe you don’t gain anything by a particular relationship, but that’s not what God calls us to. Sometimes we can be the blessing to others with little recognition or appreciation (that one’s particularly hard for me). Philippians 2:3-4 really packs a punch: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Ouch! 

But it doesn’t end there; it immediately points to Christ. To the ultimate one who gave up everything so he could have a relationship with us. Because of what Jesus did, we can be reconciled to God and in the same way to each other.

What a picture of redemption we can be to a lost world. In a world that’s out to get what it can out of relationships, to be a small picture of Christ can be a powerful thing.



I issued a bit of challenge in the post Finding Rest in a Hectic World to encourage us to put down our technology for one day a week. I’ve revised that in my own life to look like staying off social media for a that one day (I know, what a sacrifice). Who wants to pick up that challenge with me? How about instead of virtual communication on that day, we have coffee with someone, pick up the phone and call a friend, or spend some time really talking to our families.

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About birdsandberry

Etsy Seller, Art Enthusiast, Blogger, Jesus Lover, Teacher
Image | This entry was posted in Seeing God in all of Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What Happens When You Look Beyond the Camera

  1. Maggie says:

    Yes!! Love these challenges. Thanks for your wisdom, Anne!


  2. Kylie says:

    Oh Anne, I love this post! It goes right along with the book I just read about developing empathy in children, “Unselfie” (https://www.amazon.com/UnSelfie-Empathetic-Succeed-All-About-Me-World/dp/1501110039). The ability to truly engage with others and take on another person’s perspective is so important! You said it perfectly: “Meaningful conversations that open our eyes to another way of thinking. Deeper friendships that challenge and encourage us.” I certainty think connecting virtually has it’s benefits, but becoming engaging, empathetic communicators requires face-to-face interaction. The influence technology has on speech and language development is a hot topic in my profession right now. There are so many educational apps and programs being promoted and kids can be intensely drawn anything on I-Pads or smartphones. Yet, more and more research confirms that nothing replaces face-to-face experience communicating when it comes to learning language!


    • It is sort of a double-edged sword sometimes: technology allows us to connect to people we can’t see in person very often, but it can become such a distraction from the people who are actually in front of us. I’ll have to check out that book!


  3. Jean says:

    Yes, so well said, Anne. And I accept your challenge. I like the idea of calling, not texting, a friend on my non-kinde day.


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