Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Living Digitally

Al Mohler has an interesting post at his blog discussing Digital Nomads and Digital Natives. The term Digital Nomads refers to the ever-growing population who live and work virtually, connecting as needed to their workplaces via wifi hot spots and the like. And Digital Natives are the generation of mostly young people who express themselves most fully through the Internet. Some fascinating observations in this post.

I have to say that as I travel around on business I am seeing more and more of this phenomenon. In fact, I sometimes feel like a bit of a digital nomad with my laptop and my Blackberry, seeking access to wireless networks and tapping away at the tiny keyboard on my phone to keep in constant email conversation. And as I see even my own kids using Messenger and email and MySpace to converse with their friends every day, I see a whole transforming in the way the next generation relates to each other and the world.

Technology is a wonderful thing, in fact it's how I make my living. But I sometimes wonder if the stage we're at and the way we use these technologies (or they use us) is becoming a virtual reality that is slowly insulating and isolating us from each other and real reality. In one way a sense of community is being developed, but a community that never deals with each other on a person to person level, face to face. There are many these days whose only connection with others beyond the superficial is via the web. This can't be healthy.

God created us for community and relationship. First and foremost for relationship with Him. As an expression of His own community within His triune nature. But also for community with each other. Expressed most fully within the community of His people, the Body of Christ, the church. The church is the community where the many "one another" commands of Christ are to be carried out. So how can this happen in a virtual, technologically-sustained community? Not well, to be sure.

We in the church need to be aware of this developing digital demographic in the larger world around us, as well as within the people of God.

1 comment:

John P said...

I agree with you 100%. I do enjoy some of the convenience of technology, but I think it is a bit strange that children in kindergarten have cell phones.

I don't know if you saw that story where the 13 year old girl committed suicide, because a 19 year old neighbor and an adult created a fake online boyfriend, then started saying mean things. You can read the story here.

All that to say it is easy to get detached from reality. A local church lets its members attend church online. You never have to go to the building or interact with anyone. You can listen to the sermon live, and “talk” with the other onliners near you.

I don’t know if we will look back in 50 years and laugh at how silly we look as we sit, walk and drive with a piece of plastic on our ears. I certainly hope so, and if we do, I will also be laughing at myself.