Most of our church family were born into a digital world. They’ve never known anything else. The internet already existed when they were born. Many of them struggle to remember life without Facebook. And so one of the subjects for our Autumn Bible School was ‘The Christian use of Social Media’.
I can still remember getting my first ever e-mail account. And the noise the dial up internet connection made. If I go back further than that, I can picture my first exposure to a prototype of e-mail. In my first year at university I habitually took the short cut to the Students’ Union bar by travelling through the Engineering Department. I passed a room in which Computer Science geeks sent single sentence messages to their friends on the other side of the room. It was the earliest days of digital communication. How I scorned and mocked them for the sad way that they’d replaced real life relationships in the bar with something so nerdy. And yet, twenty years later I am enslaved to the same kind of equipment that they found so appealing.
But it’s not all bad. Sure, there are negative impacts of this new technology. And we’ll get to those in subsequent posts. But this is one in which we rejoice in what our God given creativity has enabled us to do. So, to begin with, let’s celebrate the creativity what lies behind this new technology and identify the benefits that the invention of the World Wide Web has afforded us.
1. It accelerates communication
I can now talk to friends face to face in Australia through Skype. Distance is no longer an issue. Time zones are though!
I can send an instant message or a text to someone rather than waiting for them to be in the same room or to be able to get to a landline. My kids no longer need to go to a telephone, they can simply get out their Nokia Brick (non internet compliant) and send me a text telling me when they’ll get back.
I can e-mail a friend rather than sending a letter which could take weeks to get there.
If we can get internet access, we could interview some of our mission partners live in our church prayer meeting.
2. It disseminates information
I can send e-mails with huge attachments rather than having to send something in post.
I can post pictures for any of my friends to browse.
I can post on my blog and thousands can access it at a moments’ notice. Most of the world chooses to ignore it. But they could if they wanted to.
I can research anything I want to and get instant answers. It took only a moment on Google to find out what triangular numbers were. And momentarily I became the world’s best Dad as I helped my daughter with her homework.
3. It facilitates organisation
I can use a web page to co-ordinate who can make it to what meeting.
We can post an online directory for church that’s up to date and always accessible. It’s got faces on it as well so we can easily put a name to a face.
Someone can invite whomever they want to a party and give them all the details they need as well as give them an option to show whether they’re intending to attend.
4. It enables collaboration
I can elicit the support of others to a cause very straightforwardly.
We can publish a rota that sits in cyberspace allowing those that need the information to access it whenever they need to so that they can help serve others
There’s much to celebrate in the development of this technology. It’s not all bad. We’ll get to the stuff that we need to be careful about. But, to begin with, let’s marvel at what a blessing God has given us through those computer science geeks I once mocked. Invariably the stuff online helps me bring order out of choas. It helps me fulfil God’s creation mandate to subdue the created order.