When people seem to have more of a relationship with their cell phone than they do with other people, there's a problem. And when social media becomes a place where people dump their garbage — all things mean and ugly — there's a problem. Popular Christian Media leader Joe Battaglia addresses those issues in his new book, Unfriended: Finding True Community in a Disconnected Culture, and shares the effects living in a digital world is having on the human race and its need for true face-to-face community.
Battaglia is the president of Renaissance Communications and for decades he's been a household name in marketing, broadcasting, journalism and more recently as an author. His first book, The Politically Incorrect Jesus, received wide acclaim and now his new book is on course to do the same with a very timely message.
In Unfriended, the New Jersey native wishes to help readers shake off their digital fatigue and get back to "real-life, real-world relationships with real people." Battaglia uses research, personal insight, and biblical truths to help people trade the anonymity of the internet and get up close and personal with God's workmanship.
"Get out from behind your screen and enjoy God's creation," Battaglia states in the book's description.
The Christian Post interviewed Battaglia, who explains the importance of real-life community in a digital age. Below is an edited transcript.
Christian Post: Tell us about Unfriended and why you felt compelled to write it?
Battaglia: I have been concerned for years about the decline in our personal and corporate civility, the ongoing culture war, and disconnectedness between families and friends.
We live in a hyperconnected world, and yet we're more disconnected than ever. We spend more time scrolling through Instagram than we do talking with our families. We've never had more ''friends,'' but we have no one to meet for coffee. Sadly, relationships have become less relational. We see that played out daily among our children, who seem to have more of a relationship with a cell phone than with another human.
So, this is my attempt to address these issues and more.
CP: What are some of the dangers you discovered about living virtually?
Battaglia: We have become such a social-media-conscious world that we now even begin to think in terms of behavioral patterns consistent with social media norms. When people think or act in a manner that we disapprove of, we simply "unfriend" them in the blink of a cursor. We can easily dismiss someone when we remain separated by a firewall of emotional detachment. That's harder to do when we have a relationship that must confront life daily and deal with differences, difficult behavior, and emotional pain. Hard to unfriend someone face-to-face without feeling the emotion behind it.
If we simply "unfriend" someone when struggle inevitably occurs, we never learn this important lesson: The struggle between two people is often the determining factor in bringing them together, not separating them.