A recent blog over at wycliffe.org.uk/blog shared about how internet companies are translating phone operating systems into minority languages so that more people can access their content (and included some hilarious suggestions for how to translate the concept ‘crash’: a cow falling over?!). It made me think about those who aren’t at the digital party – BTW I’m doing this post in Five Minutes, unedited.
Some people love the buzz of a good party. Extroverts thrive on finding people to engage with – if you’re right there in front of them, let’s talk! Introverts (and I confess, I am one) are happier standing on the edge, having a quieter conversation with one or two, and might tend to watch the goings-on from the edge. There’s something about being on Facebook that feels like a big, busy party to me. I shy away.
I think of the years I spent when I suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome. Getting out was a huge effort. Being with people for more than a few minutes exhausting. I often stayed home, knowing a barbecue was going on somewhere, missing my friends, and yet unable to connect with them. The party was going on without me, and I knew it. But then, through health reasons, I was cut off from the flow, and the party didn’t seek me out.
There were weeks when I couldn’t make it to church, or to small group. It’s like I stopped existing for the rest of the world. Week by week, they’d turn up to events, meetings, and interact with each other. But somehow they forgot to look around and think, ‘who’s not here?’ Even those who knew I was ill didn’t pick up a phone or reach out and offer to visit, for a short or manageable time, to include me in the flow of life. The rush of the world had flowed right by.
There are people who are not at the digital party too. I wonder why they didn’t make it. Are they ‘digital introverts’? People who prefer to keep their thoughts and conversation private… personal… 1-1? No problem. Are they ill? Who can bear to sit at a screen and pound out a new update ‘feeling rough today’. It’s not the sort of news we’re keen on following on our feed. Who among us haven’t ‘unfollowed’ the depressing input from some of our friends?
What about those without internet access, who can’t afford the device, who aren’t English speakers? What about the old, some of whom find tech hard to engage with? Or the very young, prohibited by their parents?
I’m ‘just saying’ the digital world is not representative of the whole world out there. Let’s be prepared to leave the 99 and go find the 1 sheep wandering… not that we have to bring them online. It seems more appropriate that we go offline to spend some time with them.
#write31days (What is Write 31 Days?)