"What Do You Mean?"

Thanks for clicking and no the thumbnail and beautiful image you see above was not completely unrelated click-bait. I listened to Justin Beiber’s new (ish) song yesterday, “What Do You Mean?” so it's kind of relevant:) 

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a well written pop tune, regardless if it comes from a former Disney teenie bopper or in Justin Beiber’s case, former/current YouTube star turned pop icon. I was a bit disappointed in the tune personally but it’s not terrible song. The title of the song really summarizes the entire main idea for the tune. The guy is trying to figure out what his significant other means and why she won’t actually say what she means/feels. 

“What do you mean? 

Hey, When you don’t want me to move

But you tell me to go

What do you mean?

What do you mean?

Said we’re running out of time

What do You mean?

Better make up your mind

What do you mean?”

The guy just wants to know what she really means and he kind of begs the question, “why won’t you just be honest/real with me?”

You can look at this song from a bunch of different perspectives but I think it’s a really interesting look into where our culture is. Yes, this was written by a few people in a studio, trying to pen a hit but in doing that, they’re also trying to connect with the culture, drawing from personal experience and common issues that most people deal with at one time or another in their lives. We’ve all been that person or been on the receiving end of it, asking the question “what do you mean?”.

If you know me then you’ve probably heard me say this before. Our culture, millennials in particular seem to be hiding behind their phones and screens. The truth seems to be bent more and more on social media and a heated/intense conversation over text message/facebook thread is barely mentioned or brought up minutes later face to face between the exact same 2 people. In fact, it’s like it didn’t even exist but it did because moments later both of them are furiously texting mutual friends about how absurb/ridiculous the other person is. All in the name of venting of course.

I'm also not saying that technology is a bad thing. It's a great thing that we get to communicate and keep in touch with people whom we would normally not see(Highschool/college friends, family, etc.). It's when we choose to disengage from the people physically around us for something that's frankly easier that it becomes a problem and I think we're doing it a lot more than we realize. There is a difference between interacting with people on your phone and interacting with them face to face. It's a lot more difficult to have an actual conversation with someone and "get real" when you have to look at the person that you're speaking to.

Real conversations are difficult to have. They require honesty, openness and deal with the fear of not knowing what the reaction of the other person will be. It’s having the strength to say what needs to be said, deal with what needs to be dealt with in a tactful and loving way. That's how we grow in relationship and in community with other people. Relationships are difficult but hiding behind my iPhone even in the name of venting is really just a cop out, it tends to mire me down in my own opinion rather than inform me of another’s and tends to stir up anger rather than dissipate it.

We're becoming more and more passive aggressive, losing the ability to communicate with others in a way that’s healthy and Biblical. I remember when AOL group instant messaging was a thing. We’d get to school the next day and talk about what everyone said in the thread, it actually felt like the same relationship. It feels different now that we can just group text, include, exclude and complain about whoever we want 24 hours a day without actually having to say anything and really deal with anything and the real kicker is that we’re actually much angrier and haven’t solved anything.

The people that I most admire, respect and enjoy being around are those people who are actively engaged with other people and aren’t usually on their phones. Whether it’s a small group Bible study, a songwriting session, production meeting or family gathering, these people are rarely on their phones and they're also not private group messaging half of the room and intentionally excluding and “venting” about the other half all while conversation and dialogue is going on. It just doesn’t happen. They’re engaged, open and real with the people who are physically in the room. Even as I’m writing this I’m getting convicted about the times already this week when I started to feel that anxious/“I have to check my phone” feeling, gave in, disengaged with the people that were with me and browsed facebook. Technology isn't the problem here but it has given us the ability to disengage quite easily if we want and in many situations when we feel even the least bit uncomfortable, that's exactly what we do.

Thinking of ways to be more encouraging, honest and real in our face to face interactions and resisting the temptation to express all of our frustrations in Facebook threads, tweets and private group messages is probably something that we need to do more of as followers of Christ and will end up helping rather than hurting. Let’s make this a thing.