When I was a kid back in 1966, Diana Ross and the Supremes had a hit song entitled, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” It is still considered to be one of the top 500 songs that shaped contemporary music, and it was based on a gospel song that was produced in the 1950s. The most notable part of the song is the chorus, immortalizing the words of a wise mom who says to her daughter:
You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said, “Love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take”
The chorus is repeated, and the young woman is barely comforted as she laments her loneliness, but ultimately, she hangs on to the words of her mother.
It’s 50 years later, and while humans don’t change all that much intrinsically, parents and grandparents who weathered their own storms with regard to love and relationships are up against some new challenges when it comes to helping their younger loved ones: social media. We now have the ability to instantly and without any filters let the entire planet know how things make us feel as many times a day as we choose, and, our “friends” are expected to respond each time. Part of the reason this format is so powerful is that every time someone responds, a small bit of dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters that causes us to feel good, is released, and thus our complaint is rewarded with a tiny and only temporary fix.
You might ask, “Well, isn’t that the same as going to a friend or loved one to gain solace?” No, and the reason is deceptive. If you go to a friend who listens and gives you wise counsel, you hear their voice, you see their eyes, you might have a cup of tea, you might get a hug, and perhaps they will pray for you right then and there. It is the cumulative effect of “facelook” as opposed to Facebook that can help turn the tide more readily and with better results.
By contrast, emojis are at best well-meaning masks, or in the case of the furious ones, not so much. Please understand, I am not trying to bash social media here, and I have been gratified at times when I have gotten a ton of “likes,” whether it’s related to Athens Now or my own page. I am just saying that our kids first of all are told they are ultra special and invincible from morning till night, they “deserve”_________ (just fill in the blank), are given trophies for showing up, and have helicopter parents hovering over them in case they “fall down and go boom,” literally or emotionally. Millennials are miserable, and some of the fault is ours.
How do we manage this ourselves, no matter what age we are, or healthfully help our young people? No one likes to be told, “You just have to wait. Love don’t come easy…” Like all things that really matter, it’s by instilling in ourselves and our kids the belief that delayed gratification makes everything sweeter, deeper, and more fulfilling. And more importantly, it is walking in the truth that if you want love, you need to give it. In addition, you need to become your best self so that you are not a black hole that sucks any love that does come your way into the far reaches of your emotional universe. We are in a season where we are talking a lot about love—love of Athens, love of country, love of freedom, love of God. “Love don’t come easy,” just ask our Savior. But pursuing a life of love is always worth it.