A few weeks ago, I was at church early setting up my stuff in the hallway. Someone grabbed me and pulled me into the auditorium.
“We want to see what you think about something.”
I looked at the screen where the media team displays the words to the songs we will sing during worship. Behind the words were moving strips of colors. Lights were fading in and out. I had to look away. My head was spinning. I felt like my old friend, Vertigo, wanted to pull me down a spiral staircase.
“I don’t like it,” I announced. I actually thought that by saying this, it would just confirm what they already knew: This was a bad idea.
Instead, the other three people standing around me looked at each other. They gave each other a knowing look. They all seemed in complete agreement that it was fabulous!
“I hate to say it, but I think it’s an age thing,” one of them told me.
Ugh. That was hard to swallow. Up until that moment, I really did not realize that this group of people saw me as being so much older than they are. I don’t feel older. But it wasn’t really the outright statement about the obvious truth that I’m 10 to 15 years older than the people in that group.
It was the implication. It wasn’t so much my chronological age. I just wasn’t hip enough to understand. I wasn’t cool enough. I wasn’t with it.
I try hard to stay on top of technology. I’m always looking for ways to try to make things more appealing, either through graphic design, video, color, glossy paper, background music, web design… whatever!
I like to think of myself as being forward thinking. I would say that, in general, I’m a visionary. I love to try new things, think of new ideas, dream of better ways to do things. I couldn’t believe that I really thought I was on top of things and, in fact, I didn’t have a clue!
Later, one of the guys explained it to me.
People in their mid-20s and younger are so accustomed to seeing flashing lights and moving graphics on a screen that it significantly adds to their “experience” if that is part of what is in front of them. It’s not just that it’s an added element for them. Something is actually missing without it.
So, they were right. It WAS an age thing.
I realize that people born 15 years after me have had a different life experience due to the fact they have been immersed in media and technology from birth. Let’s face it! I didn’t even have an e-mail account until I was 23!
In our home, I am probably over-the-top strict about limiting the amount of time my kids spend in front of a screen. And yet, they are inadvertently exposed to more flashing lights, moving graphics and background noise as children than I ever was on purpose.
I was glad someone explained this to me. Now, I DO get it.
As it relates to church, I was probably feeling the same way that day that my parents did 30 years ago when the church wanted to replace hymns with “contemporary” songs like “This is the Day.” Now, it made sense to me. I had no desire to stand in the way of something that might really matter to a younger generation of people (even if it did make me want to close my eyes and throw up right in the middle of a worship song!).
It reminded me of something I heard someone say recently about the way people communicate today. There are certainly lots of downsides to a near addiction to communication these days. It cracks me up to see a group of teenagers all hanging out together and every single one of them is staring at his or her smart phone because the joy of communicating with someone else is more important than talking to the person right next to them!
I will admit that I’m overly addicted to my shiny white iPhone that hangs out in my back pocket, alerting me with every new Facebook notification, every new text message and every new e-mail all day long. But I get equally as frustrated with people who believe that a phone call is the only “legitimate” form of communication. Just sending a text or an e-mail to say hello doesn’t count as a real effort to reach out and keep in touch.
However, as this speaker said the other day, ignoring technology won’t make it go away. Our kids are still going to set up Facebook accounts, or text their friends or use whatever new form of communication we haven’t even considered yet.
We can pretend it doesn’t exist because we don’t like it. We can insist they only communicate with us the way we did when we were growing up. But the only person who would be missing out on communicating with them would be ME.
I hope I don’t get to the point that I refuse to consider keeping up with changes in technology and communication just because I don’t like them. I would prefer to friend them or follow them or facetime them or whatever I need to do in the future to spark communication, rather than miss out because I insist they only mail me a handwritten letter. 🙂
In the same way, we can ask people to come to church and only experience the same thing we did 10 years ago. We can ignore the real fact that a younger generation expects something different. Yep. We can ignore it.
And they will go find it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! What do you think?