Digital Natives and Immigrants - request to stop ignoring the others

In many respects, I feel like I am a digital native; that is I grew up with computers and the digital age and feel very at home in the “digital” world. Others might identify themselves as digital immigrants, in which they had to move from one world into the digital world.

And like the stories I read of immigrants moving to the United States, there is a strong desire of the “old world” customs and language and traditions to be upheld, respected and practiced. Those who emigrate from, say Mexico, and do not speak English will often desire their children to practice the traditions and language of Mexico. And it is very admirable, but it is also very difficult to navigate.

Building on this example, it is often the case too that the children surpass their parents in the use of the English language. This quickly turns the tables in the relationship. It is now the parent who is dependent upon the child to communicate to the teacher or to the soccer coach. The child is forced to live in two worlds – one they are born into (America) and one that is expected of them to live into (Mexican).

In many ways the digital native/immigrant is much the same thing. Often children surpass their parents in knowledge of how the internet and technology work. Adults are dependent upon the child to set up Facebook accounts or explain Twitter or even run a DVD/TV.

I surely not the first to point this out by any stretch of the imagination, but it is becoming very real in the UMC that the younger clergy are being asked to live in two worlds. We are asked to live in the “old world” with the customs and expectations that are a part of that and then we are expected to also be fluent in the world were born into which sometimes does not even speak the same language of our parents (search “L337 speak” and you will get the picture).

And so to my “old world” friends, do not decry the lack of respect of the “new world” or hint at how technology, while okay, is really the root of so much evil.

And to my “new world” friends, do not admonish the tradition and wisdom of the “old world” or hint at how older people, while okay, really are an obstacle to “progress”.

We are all learning together.