Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Cause, Effect, or Relationship?

According to the Pew Research Study, as of 2019:
  • nine-in-ten U.S. adults say they go online, 
  • 81% say they own a smartphone and 
  • 72% say they use social media.
Although we may be reaching a saturation point and growth in some technologies and their use may be slowing a bit, the reason is that there are few non-users left.  For example, 93% of Millennials (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) own smartphones, and nearly 100% say they use the internet.  Evidence of the profound impact of this move is shown by the fact that social media has become the go to source for just about everything from news to products.  Social media surpassed print news in 2018.  One-in-five adults said they often get news from social media, slightly higher than the share who often did so from print newspapers (16%).  Among social media sites, Facebook dominates in terms of news consumption:  Around half of all U.S. adults (52%) now say they get news there. 

At the same time, the decline in church attendance has occurred.  Is there a connection?  Is it cause, effect, or related at all?

In the end it both confirms and encourages the very things that discourage attendance at worship.  One is the idea of truth, objective truth that exists for all people and all places and all times.  The fast pace of change and the focus on consumer preference and desire agitate against the idea that such a truth exists or that it matters at all.

Another is the idea of passive consumerism.  In other words, consumption of social media is largely passive -- it does not promote or require action or even thinking.  It is designed not to change minds as much as appeal to minds made up.  What kind of faith exists in an environment in which the mind is set and nothing is allowed to challenge or, perhaps, even intrude upon what is believed or felt?

Another area is individualism.  What need is there for or relevance from community when the focus is so exclusively upon the individual?  The unique character of the Nicea (we believe) has become secondary to the singular and individual (I believe) and the sources of that belief no long flow out of communities of faith but are largely individualistic.

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