On Friday, an unemployed twenty-year-old posted a message on YouTube offering to “be there” for anyone who needed to talk. “I never met you, but I do care,” he said in his video offer. As of this morning, he has received more than 5,000 calls and text message from people he has never met. He said, “Some people’s own mothers won’t take time to sit down and talk with them and have a conversation, but some stranger on YouTube will. After six seconds, you’re not a stranger anymore, you’re a new kid I just met.”
It is a sad and frightening indictment that kids are so starved for a sense of community that they would turn to a stranger rather than parents or a pastor. The anonymity and individualism that exists in an “on-line community” is no substitute for being known in the context of real relationships—warts and all. The culture of secret relationships wars against the biblical call for covenantal life, but the lack of authentic community drives children, and adults, to find a worldly substitute elsewhere.