Many of my friends and peers are all about social media. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and any of the other dozens of platforms out there. There is a feeling of connection, of community, of being entertained, and of being informed. They love discussing what someone, somewhere, said about something that relates to this other thing they once heard someone, somewhere…. etc.
It’s part of my generation’s “thing”. By that, I mean we were all pretty young when dial up was going down, Xanga and Myspace, AIM, and then Facebook started to become the dynamic force it is today. While we aren’t like those younger than us who won’t remember a world without these platforms, we almost can. We can sometimes squint to a youth of staying out late with the fireflies, coming home at the sounds of our parents shout or whistle, and spending hours imagining various worlds of our own creation.
It’s an interesting thing to exist in the in-between; of staying in worlds of our own imagination to the transition of spending hours arguing with computer-screened-strangers over things we ourselves often don’t know as much about. And with the in-between, with this external change, comes a change within ourselves. What used to be youthful naiveté and imagination has become tension, anger, and sometimes even hate.
Why? I think it’s a question of scope. I’m not going to argue that social media and the internet is the underlying malady of all things “Millennial,” but there is something to say about its impact regarding how we view the breadth of our lives. After all, we love the community, the conversation, the entertainment, the information. Those things were present within our youthful days of outside and imagination. They were part and parcel of our self-understanding, of the scope of what it means to be human, to be alive, and to be part of something beyond our individuated experience.
So, the scope changed, the focus altered: what took place in a garden of God’s creative gifts was relegated to a mainframe of mankind’s machinery. Our connection was consigned to a screen, our community consisted of strangers or fabricated alterations of what authenticity is supposed to be, our entertainment exchanged imagination for contrivance, and our information was diminished to often retaliatory exchanges between those who also exist in the in-between. We are suspicious, afraid, and eager to “educate the ignorant”. Our laugher has been replaced with rhetoric.
It’s an interesting thing to exist within this “Millennial” in-between, but I know each generation has its own in-between as well. And you know what? That shouldn’t divide us but encourage and bring us closer together. We can stand united with our God, a God of reconciliation and redemption. We can learn of one another’s struggles and work together in grace to be different than this angry and sometimes hateful noise around us. May it be so, may it be together, and may it be ongoing.
– Ben Geeding