Nathan Foster on how we understand relationships

I’ve just started reading the monthly posts by Richard Foster’s son Nathan, and they are generally thought-provoking. This month he raises an interesting point about how we’ve come to view relationships:

It doesn’t help matters that many of us live as victims to unrealistic expectations of just what relationships can be. We primarily learn about social relationships through what we see, hear, and experience. At this particular junction in the existence of humanity, a great deal of our interactions with the “other” is through the medium of entertainment in its various forms: print, film, social media, music, and the onslaught of advertisements that accompany these instruments of socialization.

It is certainly worth examining, at least within ourselves, the effects of the potentially dominant voice teaching us about the human experience. How we interact with others is not always fully grounded in reality. These portrayals of just how marriage, family, parenting, friends, and work ought to be, seldom represent the entire range of what actually occurs. So many are left feeling like outsiders to the perceived tenderness and goodness that others experience. It’s the student who tearfully accounted to me how uninteresting and unfulfilling her life was compared to all of her friends on Facebook. It’s the father of four who doesn’t understand why parenting and marriage remains a constant struggle. It’s the grandparents feeling ignored and a burden to the family they devoted their entire life to. The social learning of our age forges in us an unrealistic view of the world. Our unrealistic expectations only feed our isolation.

The above reminds me of something I heard once from an older friend: “We went to the movies to learn how to kiss.” And these days I think the number of things we learn about life from community is very small, the number from popular entertainment overwhelmingly large.


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