If the world seems to be growing stranger by the day, maybe it’s because it is.

Tuesday’s New York Post featured the story of Akihiko Kondo – a 38-year-old man from Japan who describes himself as a “fictosexual” who’s been “married” to a hologram for the last four years.

“Fictosexuality” is an umbrella term used to describe anyone who is sexually attracted to a fictional character.

Mr. Kondo’s “love” interest is named Hatsune Miku. They were “married” in 2018 in a “wedding” that cost $17,300. So, a fake wedding – but real dollars. But recently, a software glitch has halted the man’s ability to “communicate” with the pretend wife. Despite the forced silence, he vows to still “love” the character.

While only a very small percentage of people around the world may share Akihiko Kondo’s tragic dysfunction, a far greater number of people are nevertheless living in a increasingly virtual world that’s void of personal contact.

If you’re not convinced, just go to any airport or mall or look at passengers on a train. The vast majority of them will have their heads down in their phones. They’re scrolling – and scrolling. And scrolling. The average cellphone user swipes or clicks their phone over 2000 times a day.

Since 2014, texting has replaced talking for the most frequent form of communication. In fact, texting has increased by 7,700% percent in the last ten years.

How addicted are we to our phones? Nearly half of Americans say they couldn’t live without them.

For younger Americans, the digital world has replaced a dating one. During the onset of the COVID pandemic, virtual teen gatherings skyrocketed in popularity – but two years later, many haven’t gone back to face-to-face fellowship. A recent Pew report found that nearly half of singles aren’t looking for companionship.

So, it goes to figure that at the very same time the virtual world is exploding, loneliness is growing also. According to a recent report, 61% of young adults feel seriously isolated these days – despite being digitally connected unlike never before. It seems the very tools they believe will help them connect are actually hurting – and exponentially so.

A fallen humanity is full of many complex problems – but this isn’t one of them. The answer is pretty straightforward and simple:

Look up from your phone and have a real conversation with a real person.

It was Walt Disney who said, “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” He added, “The secret of making dreams come true can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy; and the greatest of these is confidence.”

Resist the urge to retreat to the safe world of your phone and ask questions of people around you. Pay them a compliment. Smile. Or, instead of texting your friend, give them a call. The sound of a friend’s voice can soothe and encourage. Real laughter beats texting “lol” or sharing an emoji of a smiling circle.

God created us for face-to-face interaction. It was the writer of Hebrews who urged believers to not neglect meeting together – “as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:25).

That was good advice then – and it’s good advice now.