I read an editorial in yesterday’s Boston Globe by a senior at my alma mater, Tufts University, that introduced me to a new word: “fauxting.” I’m not sure how to say it but I’m thinking you pronounce the “x.” Otherwise you’d sound like a Brit who has just broken wind.

It refers to the practice of “fake texting” in order to avoid eye contact with someone you know but who will probably ignore you. I guess that happens a lot on quads these days. So it’s basically a social media preemptive strike. I imagine it’s also done in any awkward social context when you don’t want to appear to be alone lest anyone thinks you are, God forbid, a loser. It’s basically using a smart phone as a social crutch.

There are worse things in the world than fauxting but it’s a pretty sad commentary on the isolation that so many feel even in an era of unprecedented connectivity. You may have 600 friends on Facebook but how many do you really know? How many would you want to have lunch with? You may follow hundreds of people on Twitter but how many of them would you follow to the ends of the earth?

This is precisely why social media must be complemented by actual human contact and relationship. When it is, these virtual relationships can supplement our real relationships and the sense of isolation fades away. For many people of faith, relationship with God hovers between feeling like a virtual relationship and an actual one. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,” says Jesus to (Doubting) Thomas in John’s gospel. There are moments with God feels so close and there are moments when our relationship with God feels more like a slow computer trying to download a large file.

Faith takes patience, perseverance, and forebearance. The hope is that we come to see our relationship with the risen Christ as more actual than virtual. Virtual friends are nice but it’s true friendship that sustains us on the journey of life and faith.

I’ve never fauxted but I have reached for my BlackBerry when waiting for someone in a public place. Maybe deep down we all still have some semblance of social anxiety stemming from an awkward middle school dance. If only I had the ability to fauxt back at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn in the 1980’s!


2 Comments on “Fauxting?”

  1. Bob Chapman says:

    Using the “t” in the way you say it makes it sound naughty. Keep up the good work.

  2. And yet it’s also true that friendship can be discovered and nurtured via social media — as can a life of faith. Case in point: @Virtual_Abbey, a community I belong to that prays the Daily Office via Twitter and has, over the past year or so, developed into a true community of companions on the journey of faith.

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