In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, referred to the new world of emerging technologies as the “digital continent.” And in other documents, he refers to those who have been born into this digital world as the “digital generation.”
Recently, I have seen references to the digital continent and have been thinking about its meaning. By now, you have heard the terms digital natives referring to those who have grown up with the Internet and digital immigrants referring to those of us who have had to learn this strange new culture and language. The concept of digital continent makes sense for older generations as we have to “go there.” I am not sure that younger generations would see it the same way because they are already there and anything previous is ancient history.
For the sake of this article, let’s think about how we older generations, are embracing or resisting this new world.
Some of us are pioneers, forging ahead, breaking new ground, finding ways to work, communicate, minister, collaborate more effectively online. We are reading about the latest digital device and wondering how we can afford to get one. We are blogging; we are on Facebook and Twitter. We upload photos and videos taken with our phones. We are texting with our children and grandchildren. We have Skype and FaceTime with family and colleagues.
Some of us are there for fun and games—enough said. There is a lot of entertainment on the Internet (good and not so good).
Some of us are tourists, visiting and checking things out. We listen to the natives and the tour guides and try a few new things now and then. We might use email and we occasionally “Google” something. We either don’t use social media or we use it to keep track of others, but rarely, if ever, share anything about ourselves. The digital continent is someplace to visit, but we look forward to going home to the familiar.
Some of us are practical consumers. We do everything we can online—we bank online, we order online, we keep all of our records online, we watch movies online, we do all of our comparison shopping online, we research our medications and medical conditions online, we get our news online. It is so easy and convenient, why not do it online?
Some of us aren’t interested in new worlds or continents. We are fine just the way we are. Let the young deal with this new technology—we do not need it. It is all around us, but we pull the drapes and ignore it.
Some of us are digital missionaries. We are online to witness and spread the gospel message in whatever way our talents and time allow. We blog, we comment, we post, we respond, we “like,” we “follow,” we share whatever we think promotes the values and teachings of Jesus Christ. We demonstrate that people of faith have compassion and humor; care about family, friends and those in need; want to make a difference.
There are all kinds of people on the digital continent. Who are you and how do you navigate this new terrain?
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net