New is dangerous, old is noble

The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.  ~Warren Chappell (1904-1991)

I find that people have a curious attitude towards new ways of doing things.

If I were to tell you that part of my job is to remain informed by reading journals on the study of adolescence, magazines to keep up with the latest trends in adolescent culture, network with youth workers around the world to hear what’s going on in the field of youth ministry, and read book after book of youth ministry training materials… you’d likely have a noble attitude towards my lifestyle.

Wow, Adam McLane is a well-read, well-informed guy.

But if I were to tell you that I do all of that sitting in front of a computer all day, reading dozens of blog posts, networking with people on Twitter and Facebook, and reading hundreds of pages of stuff every day to find the very best stuff out there.

Oh, Adam McLane is addicted to the internet. [Make ugly, judgmental face]

People’s attitudes towards acquiring news information and reading.

6 hours of sitting and reading a book or digesting the latest newspaper = noble use of time.

6 hours of sitting and reading online or digesting the latest news online = evil use of time.

The same could be said of people’s attitudes towards mobile devices.

6 hours of sitting behind a desk pushing paperwork around = noble use of time.

6 hours of actively doing stuff in the field with 30-40 minutes of time away from that to send emails or communicating with co-workers = evil use of time.

The same could be said about interacting with ones friends.

I either see or call all of my friends nearly every day = noble use of time & energy.

I connect or exchange messages with all of my friends nearly every day on either Facebook, Twitter, or text messaging = evil use of time & energy.

What’s the point?

I find it disturbing that people say, “You need to manage your time online or with your mobile device. You are probably addicted.” But you will never hear someone say, “Pray for Adam, he’s addicted to reading books. Holy cow, he sits and listens to his friends way too much. I think he is addicted. He’s a communication-aholic.”

I’m not saying that there aren’t times when I’m horribly out-of-balance or that I’m somehow really perfect. (Because I’m actually quite messed up.)

What I am saying is that people have had negative attitudes towards people who do things in new or innovative ways for as long people have invented stuff.

Several thousand years ago there were probably people challenging villagers to not use this new thing called a “bridge” too much or you’d get addicted to it and not really appreciate walking around the canyon or wading through the icy river.

It’s always been this way.

Old is noble.

New is dangerous.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

9 comments

  1. Umm, wow, how to say this without coming off like some old fashioned stuck in the past crank?

    noble – possessing outstanding qualities
    nobel – inventor of dynamite and creator of a high profile award.

    I’m just sayin’….LOL

    I agree with you otherwise.

    Peace
    Jay

  2. Ya… nowadays, 6 hours of any ONE thing is addiction. Because EVERYONE is addicted instead to multi-tasking. We must do a little of everything all the time or else we are perceived as unproductive. The result is that we lose expertise and, what I call “depth perception” — the ability to understand a subject deeply, not just Trivial Pursuit knowledge. Keep up the “depth perception” work Adam. It’s needed!

    Also totally agree with Jay. Very perceptive, Jay!

  3. I’ve grown up in a religious tradition that decried all things “new.” Nothing might have been more controversial than songs. I remember the shock of reading the Psalms afresh, recognizing that the Psalmist had a thing for “new” songs. That moment of realization changed so much for me!

  4. @douglas- It’s interesting how every denomination, at one point in its history, was the new, hot thing.

    Still wondering why some great everything new with suspicion?

  5. At my first church, I had one deacon that always asked me when he saw me in my office if I was playing games on my computer. I never played games but because he had never used a computer himself, he thought they were only good for playing solitaire and such. I think I eventually turned my screen to face the door so I couldn’t be accused of hiding anything.

  6. @jason- That’s actually a really good tip. (And a built in bit of accountability.) I’m always suspicious when someone quickly flips their screen when I walk in the room.

    And, like you, I’ve always had church people act suspicious of my online activities. You are so dangerous. 🙂

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