As an Alaskan, I’ve been reluctant to talk about bridges. Conversation tends to turn toward a certain project linking Gravina Island with the town of Ketchikan, and that leads to, well, nowhere that I want to talk about.
But I’ve been thinking about digital immigrants, and how we’re an important bridge to the digital native future.
I’m pretty comfortable online. I blog. I use Google Reader to read other blogs. I live on Facebook (sometimes too much). I have a Twitter account, but I’m not a convert yet. I’ve just started to explore Tumblr.
But still, I’m not a native. My mind does hurt when I start teaching myself something new. The learning curve is steep. I have to take a deep breath, and give myself frequent pep talks.
Here’s the thing, though. People at AUUF think I know what I’m doing. Question about Facebook? Ask Heather. How to start a blog? Ask Heather. What should we do with our website? Ask Heather.
It’s kind of bizarre, actually. My first encounter with computers was in the DOS era, where people who were good with computers were math geeks. If you’d told me then that two decades later people would think I was good at computers, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was a word person, not a math/computer person.
So we come back to bridges, and why we need them. Between the digital natives, and the digital aliens and tourists, are the digital immigrants. People who know how to learn new technology, even though it’s hard. We learn from the digital natives, and translate for the aliens and tourists.
There are a heck of a lot of digital aliens and tourists in religious communities these days. If the congregations we care about are going to survive to welcome unaffiliated digital natives, digital immigrants will need to recognize their role, step up, and fill it.
The aliens and tourists who ask for our help will say, “This is hard. It’s confusing. I feel like my brain’s going to explode.” And we’ll reply, “Yes, I know. But if you work through that, there’s good stuff on the other side.”