Tim and I recently sat through two eight-hour days of parenting classes in preparation for our upcoming adoption. In a required class about attachment, we learned the distinction between bonding and attaching. We learned that bonding activities lead to attachment, and attachment is fundamental to a child’s development. We were encouraged to prioritize and participate in a variety of bonding activities with our adopted child in the hope of forming a strong attachment, which will be critical to every next step of our journey together. Bonding activities for new parents include things like holding, singing, making eye contact and all the goo-goo-ga-ga babbling that new parents do with their babies.
I came home from our training sessions and prepared for Platt Park Church’s present sermon series, called “Alone: If we never learn to be alone, all we’ll ever be is lonely.” My preparation included reading about Facebook’s impact on society, and this quotation from an article in the Atlantic Daily struck me: “What Facebook has revealed about human nature – and this is not a minor revelation – is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond.” A connection is not the same as a bond, and a bond is not the same thing as an attachment. Facebook is more about connections than it is about bonding. Bonding usually happens face to face in those moments when we can’t easily project or edit an image of ourselves. Over time, enough of these un-edited face-to-face bonds form attachments between people. But this kind of meaningful attaching requires us to get off our devices and actually make time and space for face-to-face encounters.
When God created Adam, the first man, he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” But think about it: Adam was not alone; Adam was with God! Apparently, even God’s presence was not enough to fully satisfy Adam’s heart, and so God created companionship. God knew that humans would need “face time” with other people in order to survive and grow.
I’m a big fan of Facebook, but I want to guard myself from the illusion that all my quick little connections are creating or sustaining healthy, vibrant attachments. Absolutely nothing can replace the gift of being present to each other in time and space.