Monday, December 31, 2018

Does It Really Matter If I'm a Digital Immigrant or a Digital Native?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We live in an interesting time, to say the very least. Changes are happening faster than the most diligent among us can record, much less keep up with. 

Our digital world seems to be the catalyst for the majority of those changes. Because I am a part of the the older generation (ouch, that hurts) I hear a lot of derogatory comments about technology and the fact that our generation is not a digital native. We are classified as digital immigrants.

Digital Immigrant vs. Digital Native
It’s a fact that many of us didn’t grow up around the technology we have today—and some of us not around any technology. That truth makes some things tough. But that difficulty is no excuse to quit. I didn’t grow up having to do a lot of things, but as an adult I had to learn.

Growing up, we had telephones connected by a cord in the wall, television sets that had to be changed with a knob on the front, and there was only one kind of mail and it involved paper, an envelope and a stamp. I’ve managed pretty well to learn how to use a remote control, cell phone, and manage email.

The truth is, we learn what we want to learn.

I hear a lot of people lamenting the “good ol’ days” and wishing we could go back.

If we think back, the good old days weren’t all that great. Making phone calls meant encountering busy signals, disconnections, and angry parents who were tired of teenage girls tying up the phone line talking to boyfriends. The television was grainy, it went off the air at midnight, and there were only about a dozen channels. Then there was mail. It certainly was no more reliable than the email I deal with today.

Yes, times were simpler. But I remember my parents and grandparents complaining about how complicated life had gotten. 

Every time has its irritations and difficulties.

But I would propose to you that our birth into this place and this time was no accident. God is not surprised by the stresses we encounter or the obstacles we encounter.

...And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b (NIV)

Instead, I put forth the idea that He has a purpose for us in this point in history. And furthermore, that our digital struggles are part of that purpose.

Perhaps we need to stop looking at social media from such a small, one-sided, viewpoint. What if sharing information about our books and our message was secondary—a byproduct of what God actually intents. Suppose the whole point of this is to spread His message. Here are some things that God has me thinking about:
  • What if my refusal to learn to connect on social media is actually interfering with the purpose God has for me here and now?
  • What if using the fact that I’m a digital immigrant as a crutch is hindering God’s plan for my life?
  • What if, instead of ignoring or boycotting social media, God’s purpose is to retake it for His glory.
These aren’t easy-to-answer questions. But they are questions we should be asking ourselves. God put us here for such a time as this. I for one, have decided that I need to embrace this time and look for places to join Him in His work, no matter how uncomfortable that makes me. How about you?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Digital Immigrant or Digital Native—Does it really matter? Thoughts from @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Edie, Happy New Year and thank you for your faithfulness to this blog. I read it everyday and am inspired and educated by it. I must admit I love technology and at the same time am intimidated by it. I have a grasp on Facebook, but Twitter and Instagram not
    so much. Thanks for the challenge and I am going to take advantage of the fact I may have been born in this season 'for such a time as this and run with it. Many Blessings and happiness in 2019. --Judy

    1. Julie, that’s a great attitude! I know you’ll have a positive impact in your community in 2019, Blessings, E

  2. Amen Ms. Edie; the one constant in life is change. How well we adapt to that is up to each of us my friend. Happy New Year and God's blessings to you, Mr. Kirk, and family in 2019.

    1. Jim, that is so true and makes me wonder why I hate something so constant LOL! Blessings to you in the New Year, E

  3. Amen, sister! The enemy keeps pointing out digital evils as a discouragement, but we must open our eyes wide & see that Jesus is Lord over the Digital Age too - and like you said - He invented it for His purpose and put us smack dab in the middle of it; the “elders”, if you will, who can remember the old and help guide our children deal with the new. May God bless us all in 2019! :)

    1. Chris, you are absolutely right! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Blessings E

  4. I'd like to keep the technology, but go back to the simpler times when morals were tighter and good values were important.

    1. Carole, I think we all would. All the more reason to take a stand in the digital world! Thanks for choking in, Blessings, E

  5. Edie, THANK YOU! I will Tweet this to death. I will be 62 this year, and I've been working on a computer (of some kind) since I was 24 (yes, they had them back then). I LOVED my Lanier word processor...and my memory typewriter...and first KayPro and then the Macintosh, ad infinitum. While that makes me an "immigrant," I've been doing it long enough to know that learning is a matter of perseverance. I am also a novice at book marketing, but 2019 is my year to learn even more. While I do get tired of all the changes at times, I also remember when all my phone calls were limited to 8 minutes because my dad was on call, and there was no such thing as call waiting. So onward into the fray.

    1. Ramona, you are such an encouragement to me and to so many! (Lots if folks here don’t know you’re the one who helped me through a horribly discouraging time in my writing career) Blessings, my friend and Happy New Year! E

  6. Thanks Edie for your insights and wisdom into the past and future. Didn't know I was a digital immigrant! Learn something new every day! Blessings Sheri