Published on April 20th, 2018 | by Katherine Forster
Why My Mom Can’t Use Snapchat (And That’s Okay)
There was a time my brothers and I tried to teach my mom to use Snapchat.
In general, my mom is pretty good with technology—she even has Twitter and Instagram. So we figured she might have fun with Snapchat. Right?
She kept complaining that she didn’t understand the app, it didn’t make sense, and it wasn’t intuitive. That didn’t make sense to me. Snapchat, I thought, was the most intuitive app ever. Take picture. Edit picture. Send picture. What could be easier?
Natives of a Brave New World
We never could teach my mom to use Snapchat properly (and I’m sure it was just as well). However, that did teach me a lesson.
My generation—our generation—are natives to this world of technology and social media. Our parents, generally, are not.
My mom remembers typewriters and having to retype your entire paper because you forgot one sentence. She used one of the very first Mac computers, which was basically just a word processor with a tiny screen. Her brother had a car phone, which was like the grandparent of cell phones (think big, clunky handset that attaches to the inside of your car).
To my mom, computers, the internet, and smartphones are all relatively new things—not taken-for-granted facts of life.
We, on the other hand, have grown up surrounded by them. Internet and social media are integral parts of our lives.
There’s a reason the adults having a computer issue always turn to a teenager for help. It’s because what’s strange to them is intuitive to us. We’re the natives of this brave new world.
Perils and Pitfalls of Our Internet Age
When Columbus discovered what he called the New World, he found it full of perils: dangerous animals, sickness, and armed individuals who understandably didn’t care for his presence.
When the New World of technology arrived and began its slow invasion of modern culture, it brought its own dangers. This brave new world contains at least its fair share of perils and pitfalls.
You know them, and you’ve probably read many articles (or heard many lectures) on these dangers. The waste of time. The illusion of intimacy with people you barely know. The deadly allure of comparison. The false affirmation of likes and hearts. The potential for stalkers and hackers. Pornography and worse things lurking in the dark corners of the internet.
When most of our parents were teens, these weren’t even issues. They never wasted hours of school time watching YouTube—because it didn’t exist. They never tried to find their identity in the number of hearts they could get on Instagram—because Instagram wasn’t around, and neither were cell phones and neither was the internet.
Because of all that, it’s easy to think our parents don’t know what they’re talking about; that they can’t guide us as we journey through this perilous and wonderful land of wi-fi and LTE.
They’ve never had these experiences, so they don’t know what it’s like. They have no idea.
Or do they?
The Sun Rises On Nothing New
Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes might seem strange—almost impossible—to us.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
But technology is new! We’ve never been able to connect so instantly with any part of the world. We’ve never had access to such a wealth of information and entertainment and beauty.
We’ve never had these kinds of temptations.
But what if that’s a lie?
What if that’s just a falsehood we tell ourselves so we can avoid taking quite so much responsibility for our carelessness, our rebellion, and our secret sins?
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man,” Paul says. (1 Corinthians 10:13). So all the temptations of the internet age? They’ve been around since Adam and Eve.
Our parents may not have had YouTube, but they were still tempted to waste time.
Our grandparents may not have had Instagram, but they still struggled with finding their identity in the affirmation of others.
The early church didn’t have internet pornography, but they still struggled with lust and sexual sin.
King Saul couldn’t have imagined social media, but he definitely had a comparison problem.
The sun rises every morning, and for centuries it’s never seen anything new.
It’s a brave new world, but we still have the same old sin.
The Truth Still Stands
And we still have the same truth.
If God’s word won’t change when heaven and earth themselves pass away (Matthew 24:35), it won’t change for the introduction of internet technologies.
The Bible is still sufficient for our Christian life. It’s still profitable for every aspect of our walk (2 Timothy 3:16).
So yes, the same strategies and the same solutions that were good for our grandparents are still good for us. Study your Bible. Spend time in it, using all the abilities God’s given you to discern truth. Memorize it, and go back to it with your mind throughout the day. Pray as much and as often as you can. Rely on God. Let Him use His word to change you to be more like Himself.
And don’t neglect the wisdom of the older generations, either.
My grandma has never used a computer, and she has trouble understanding the concept of wi-fi. But every time I talk to her, I come away encouraged and a little bit in awe of all the wisdom she has to share. My parents aren’t too familiar with social media, but they definitely know when we’re spending too much time on our devices (and they have the authority to make it stop).
As Andrew Peterson sings, “Go back, go back to the ancient paths, and lash your heart to the ancient mast.” In a culture obsessed with the new and improved, we need to remember the value of the old and tested by time.
The same truth that’s guided our parents and grandparents (whether literal or in the faith) will guide us home too—even if we have to travel through every pitfall of Instagram and Snapchat first.