Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mobility, Technology, and Community

If you work with people and building community and have not read the book Refrigerator Rights, you need to go get it right now. It's authored by Drs. Will Miller and Glenn Sparks at the University of Purdue, and it contains fascinating studies and perspective on the effect that mobility and technology have had on relational connection.

Consider the following:
  • According to the 2000 census, over 16% of the population moved their residence during the census period.
  • One third of young adults ages 20-29 moved in one year—from 1999 to 2000.
  • Nearly 45 million Americans move every year, and the average America moves every 5 to 6 years, thereby rupturing significant relationships with family and friends.
The technological surge of the past 50 years has also impacted our connection points.
  • Roughly one-fourth of America’s dinners are eaten while watching television.
  • According to the Kaiser Foundation, during a typical year, the average child in the United States spends the equivalent of two months of television viewing.
And we have not even begun to consider the impact of social media on face-to-face connection. We've got lots of anecdotal evidence pointing to both the positive and negative impacts of Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social networking on feelings of isolation and detachment. I think it's a net positive. But if we are honest, we just don't know yet what the full impact will be.

All of these variables factor heavily in my personal ministry goals- to create environments where connections can happen. We experience 40 percent turnover at NCC each year. I can't think of many of our leaders who don't stare at a computer screen for the majority of their day. The way we relate to one another is changing. What do we do?

Randy Frazee might say to fight against it, to live counter-culturally.

I think I'm more in favor of embracing the reality and doing the hard of work of building community in the midst of the craziness. But I'm not sure how.

Just rambling...


At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Jenny Miller said...

This is VERY interesting insight. However, we would like a solution please LOL!! :)

I agree if culture is like a huge tide and we can swim and swim against it, thinking we will change it....are we really kidding ourselves? But if we could use culture as a tool to our advantage...we would do something against what our church culture has historically promoted (do what's opposite) in turn we are doing what's opposite (going WITH culture)...

I'd love to hear ideas on HOW to do this? Maybe a great topic to bring into discussion next time you have a leader connection?

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Steve Corn said...

I gotta get that book. If you've got the time, check out this video I found on you tube:


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