Drawn and thin, the teenage hospital patient sat for hours in the waiting room communicating with his friends through the Internet. They sent messages and talked. He laughed and typed. Looking at pictures sent to him, he would respond and receive even more messages. He was using a social media that I’d not seen before called My Space. This was perhaps 10 years ago and my mother was in the hospital. As I observed the young man and his Internet activities, I realized that I was watching the beginnings of a new world. It was my first introduction to the importance that the Internet played in the lives of people under 30 years old.
Later, several teens came to visit at our home. Sure, they filled their hours with computer games but they, also, played “shopping games” using online stores. Filling their carts at various items, they did “virtual” shopping without actually purchasing anything. In fact, these young men and women spent no time in front of the TV but gathered around the computer entertaining themselves for hours.
When I began to blog, I had only one true goal, I wanted ministry to person’s with developmental disabilities to have a presence on the Internet. I had seen that people under 30 use this resource for every imaginable activity. They play, shop, pretend, work and communicate on the Internet.
Three years later, after a good deal of resistance, I opened a FaceBook page. Then a Twitter account (@lindaghoward). My son wanted me to be able to SKYPE. He set up that account for me. I have a LinkedIn account. I text messages to my grandchildren, rather than email or make a phone call because that is how they want to hear from me.
While this constant learning process is probably good for my brain, I was thrilled that my blog can now automatically forward to my FaceBook page and my Twitter account. There is a limit to the time I want to invest inside this “brave new world.”
Eventually, the question must become, how much is enough? Juggling the Internet options available can become a full-time occupation. Those brave young men and women who seem to coast effortlessly from one Internet function to another are a marvel; but I’ve seen that even they aren’t able to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. One avid Twitter tweeted, “My wife says to return to real life with her. We are taking a few days off.”
I’m reminded of Solomon who wrote that there is no end to the number of books that can be written. In like manner, there is no end to the number of ways you can use the Internet in your ministry. However, Solomon concluded that we are to beware because much study wearies the mind and body.
What are the Internet programs that you find essential to conducting your life and connecting with the Lord? What are some of the things you would like to access but you don’t have time to do?