With TV Shows Like Friends, who needs friends?

Cast of FriendsI took Zander and Lexi to a local fast food place with a playground earlier this week. While they were there, I met Kattie who was only 10 weeks old and every inch of 2 feet tall. I met Delanie who was 4 and 1/2 years old. I’d like to say I met their parents, since I did talk with them, and I did learn their children’s names and ages from them. I even learned that the dad enjoyed his newborn tax deduction so much that he took the time to show me that they bought a shirt for her that has Tax Deduction printed on the front. But I can’t say I meet them – since I didn’t ask their names, they didn’t ask mine, and we didn’t exchange any contact information, despite the fact that they were about the same age as Stephanie and me and they have kids close in age to our kids, and even made a comment that their older daughter was really enjoying the opportunity to play with Zander since her only other ‘friends’ were unable to interact on the same level due to age differences. Why didn’t we exchange information? Why didn’t I get to know them? Maybe I thought I could just ‘tune in’ next week and they would be there – all my other friends are.

I never realized how much TV was a part of everyone’s lives until the recent writers strike. As I spent time thinking about that fact, I realized something that might ring true for many of you guys as well. We have replaced actual human interaction with TV personalities. Think about it for a second – doesn’t the cast of friends make for a great click – with you in it?

Beautiful people that are funny, cool, and fun to hang out with are willing to share their lives with you every week. They don’t reject you, they never leave you out of what’s going on, and even when they do leave someone in the group out – its never you. Whether its the cast of Cheers, Friends, Sienfield, The OC, Las Vegas, Law and Order, or even Lost – you get to hang out with the cool crowd and no one questions whether or not you belong.

What – you think you haven’t replace actual friends for TV friends? Maybe you watch reality TV instead? You get to pick one of the teams on whatever show and they won’t turn you down – and you get to spy on exactly how the other team or teams are doing. You watch your new friends compete, argue, make other friends, lose weight, race to a finish line, struggle to survive, or just face their fears – all from your sofa. And they think you are great. They never turn on you, or vote you off – even when they get Fired!

When I was young, I heard stories of women that got so wrapped up in soap operas that they actually believed the cast were the characters they were playing. At the time I thought, how absurd, but now I think we all have fallen into a worse condition – we know they aren’t real, but would rather pretend they are than to turn off the TV and go make new friends.

2 replies on “With TV Shows Like Friends, who needs friends?”

I have been thinking about these type of things recently. I am now looking for opportunities to build relationships with people outside of the church world. I want to be a ‘friend of sinners’ like Jesus was so that they may know the Gospel even if I can’t get them to come into a church. It is a shame that all of the lights of the world are hiding themselves.

From a slightly different perspective, I have verbalized the need and purpose to create a family atmosphere in the youth ministry that extended outside a person’s “approved salvation experience”. In other words, sometimes I think we’re real good at loving people once they’ve been saved and cleaned up a bit by God, but we turn our noses up to the “hardcore” sinners. We have been sharing with the adult leaders the following philosophy,

“If they walk through the doors, it doesn’t matter if it’s their first visit or their 101st visit. It doesn’t matter what their religious background is. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to me what their salvation experience is at the time. If God brings them into our sphere of influence, He wants us to love them directly, and we will. They are our family and we’re gonna love them, and there’s nothing that they can do about it.”

Sounds very pie in the sky, but I believe if we can even get to establishing this philosophy even 20-30% of the time, I think we’ll be giving a better representation of God’s love than most church families in America do.

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