Alone should be read and discussed by parents and teens to help find the right balance of technology usage in our lives. You can read my book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes that stood out to me from Alone.
“Maybe God created Adam to be needy. … Maybe Adam’s relationship with God was not built in fullness but contained a hole God created inside of humanity so we might recognize the importance of each other. It was (and is) brilliant.”
“Friendship has to be accompanied by experience. … The illusion of friendship is making everyone in the world think we’re perfect. … Instead of time spent experiencing life together, we’ve turned our world into a self-shaped, self-regulated, self-indulgent, me-centered life.”
“We are now a culture that wants to deal with relationships on our time. … Relationships are work. They’re inconvenient. They’re exciting and spontaneous. You can’t apply some formula for relationships and expect to walk out of the room with a load of friends.”
“When you realize what role you have to play here on the planet, the most beautiful sense of belonging begins to awaken inside your soul. The world begins making sense. No matter what you’re doing, if God has gifted you in it, you’re going to have a high level of functioning.”
“Don’t get me wrong: Hard work and dedication are important factors as we help people understand significance, but in the end, our short lives are shaped by the relationships we make along our own journey. And if those relationships are filled with people who believe in us, the lonely factor fades away and we are recognized for the abilities we do have rather than the ones we don’t. Paul said it clearly: ‘I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands’ (2 Timothy 1:6). What can you do to fan someone else’s flame? Who in your life fans yours?”
“Maybe it’s because we’ve replaced the idea of risk and adventure with the idea of wealth and comfort. Loneliness begins to creep into a man’s life when adventure and risk are taken out of the equation, when men have to replace their God-given desires with something ‘more responsible.’ … Men need to sense that what they are doing in the world is courageous. They need to feel the sense of responsibility and freedom. They need to have opportunities to express their manhood.”
“There is no perfect girlfriend. There is no perfect employee. There is no perfect friend. There is no perfect body type or student or athlete. There’s no such thing as a perfect woman who finds the perfect role for her perfect situation. Those who continue to assign a high value to that mythical person who has it all together are driving themselves mad with the idea that they can achieve her. It’s from this feeling of failure, of never measuring up, that the loneliness sets in.”
“The first step in understanding true joy is defining what joy actually is. It’s a feeling. It’s an emotion. It’s a state of mind. It’s the ability to know that the desires of your heart are being fulfilled. It’s not happiness. It’s not the constant state of euphoria. It’s not everything lining up perfectly. … In modern times, joy happens when we interact with each other. When we see a friend’s smile giving us validation that he or she is interested in being with us: joy. When we hear the words ‘How are you?’ in an honest tone, with honest body language behind it: joy. When we have an opportunity to rest in the fact that someone else wants us to be the person God created us to be: ultimate joy.”
“The quickest way to initiate friendship is to give people freedom to be themselves.”
“‘Oh, you did sooo well in your game,’ she said, walking past, rolling her eyes. Versus … ‘I can’t believe you! You’re the most awesome basketball player I’ve ever seen,’ she said, putting her arm around her friend in celebration. See the difference? Authentic versus agenda-driven. Caring for someone versus using someone. When a tribe is built … When experience glues relationships together … When you can rest in the joy that certain relationship gives you … Loneliness starts to fade away. But you can’t do that on Facebook.”
“If we can take the value of the social networking scene and combine it with real-time relationships, we might see this trend of loneliness take a positive direction. What would life look like if we could really experience life together? Community is important. To be able to contribute to the life of the community is even more fulfilling.”
It’s weird to think this way in our highly-connected society, with the status symbol of getting as many friends, followers, and likes as possible, but more and more people feel disconnected and desperately alone. This is a serious subject that Andy Braner hits head-on in his book Alone.
Andy writes, “When people ask me, ‘What’s the biggest problem we can identify in the teenage nation today?’ it’s an easy answer: Teenagers are living all alone! … Even though Facebook gives us the ability to build a convenient corner of lives over the vast Web interface, the light of a computer screen isn’t bright enough to shine deep into our hearts and souls. We need real people. … Although this book is written for just the teen crowd, know that you’re not the only ones struggling.”
I love technology, and I’m very appreciative of the instant access to information and people. But I also know the double-edged sword of too much technology means an increased connection to screens corresponding with a decreased connection with living human beings. There has got to be a healthy balance, and Andy makes some great suggestions for finding that balance.
I not only encourage teens to read this book, but parents of teens need to read it as well. Whether you read it together or not, find a way to discuss this content. Help your teenagers find healthy, fulfilling connections both through a screen and through face-to-face interactions.