Yesterday at the Anchorage UU Fellowship I had a casual lunchtime conversation about technology with a small group of fellowship leaders. I was the second youngest person at the table (and I just turned 40).
We talked about Skype, Go-to-Meeting, and Persony. We talked about costs and benefits of using something like Persony, which would have a monthly fee.
One of the people at the table expressed deep reservations about all the digital devices that seem so disruptive. Those concerns are quite valid.
I said that I believe the generations need to stay in touch with each other, learn from each other, help each other look out for pitfalls. Older adults need to help digital natives remember to value face-to-face interpersonal skills; digital natives need to serve as tour guides to the brave new world that is coming, like it or not.
Maybe I should say that it has already come.
Last night on PBS I watched Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century.
To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. And I’m pretty tech-savvy.
Here are a few things I realized that relate to Unitarian Universalism.
The cost-benefit analysis at yesterday’s lunch table had it backwards. We were asking, “What are the benefits of this technology to the people who have already found Unitarian Universalism in Anchorage? Are those benefits worth the cost?”
What we should have been looking at is the cost of doing nothing.
If those of us who are not digital natives refuse to throw ourselves into intensive, deliberate learning of this new language, this new culture, this new way of life, then we will be unable to pass on our faith to a new generation.
And not only that. We’re going to have to let the kids drive.
We’re going to have to really believe that inherent worth and dignity begins before age 35.
Our vision of shared ministry will have to expand dramatically to include the ministry of younger minds.
We have not been particularly good at this as a movement. Our usual pattern is to reject the gifts of a new generation, only to have them come in the back door anyway, completely transforming our way of life.
Maybe it’s time to do something new. Maybe it’s time for more graceful and intentional generational transitions.
Change happens. We waste an inordinate amount of energy fighting it. What would happen if we chose to cooperate with change, to shape it gently, like a pot on the wheel?