Digital Native or Digital Immigrant—Labels Writers Should Ignore

by Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

We live in an interesting time, to say the very least. Changes are happening faster than the most diligent among us can record, much less keep up with.

Our digital world seems to be the catalyst for the majority of those changes. Because I am a part of the the older generation (ouch, that hurts) I hear a lot of derogatory comments about technology and the fact that our generation is not a digital native. We are classified as digital immigrants.

Digital Immigrant vs. Digital Native

It’s a fact that many of us didn’t grow up around the technology we have today—and some of us not around any technology. That truth makes some things tough. But that difficulty is no excuse to quit. I didn’t grow up having to do a lot of things, but as an adult I had to learn.

Growing up, we had telephones connected by a cord in the wall, television sets that had to be changed with a knob on the front, and there was only one kind of mail and it involved paper, an envelope and a stamp. I’ve managed pretty well to learn how to use a remote control, cell phone, and manage email.

The truth is, we learn what we want to learn. 

I hear a lot of people lamenting the “good ol’ days” and wishing we could go back.

If we think back, the good old days weren’t all that great. Making phone calls meant encountering busy signals, disconnections, and angry parents who were tired of teenage girls tying up the phone line talking to boyfriends. The television was grainy, it went off the air at midnight, and there were only about a dozen channels. Then there was mail. It certainly was no more reliable than the email I deal with today.

Every time has its irritations and difficulties. 

But I would propose to you that our birth into this place and this time was no accident. God is not surprised by the stresses we encounter or the obstacles we encounter.

…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b (NIV)

Instead, I put forth the idea that He has a purpose for us in this point in history. And furthermore, that our digital struggles are part of that purpose.

Perhaps we need to stop looking at social media from such a small, one-sided, viewpoint. What if sharing information about our books and our message was secondary—a byproduct of what God actually intents. Suppose the whole point of this is to spread His message. Here are some things that God has me thinking about:

  • What if my refusal to learn to connect on social media is actually interfering with the purpose God has for me here and now?
  • What if using the fact that I’m a digital immigrant as a crutch is hindering God’s plan for my life?
  • What if, instead of ignoring or boycotting social media, God’s purpose is to retake it for His glory.

These aren’t easy-to-answer questions. But they are questions we should be asking ourselves. God put us here for such a time as this. I for one, have decided that I need to embrace this time and look for places to join Him in His work, no matter how uncomfortable that makes me. How about you?


Alone by Edie Melson

 After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.
 Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has a passion to help those who are struggling find the God-given strength they need to triumph through difficult circumstances. She’s written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and is a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers.In addition you can find her sharing articles on the military family blog at Guideposts.org. She’s also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, as well as the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.