Systems have failures, and eventually, those failures will overlap. When that happens, the system creates more problems than it solves. Then we must confront the problems with people.
At some point, we must trust someone. But to do so, we must have a level of discernment and confidence that the person we are trusting is genuinely being themselves with us.
Plus, people are hard to work with. They take time, and we can’t get the measurable results we would expect from a program based on a system. As a result, we are relying more and more on systems to manage our communication.
Talking Round and Round
Communication technology has allowed us to interact with more people who are further and further away. This means culture has been called upon to play a larger role in these relationships. In addition, more people from different cultures have become part of our day-to-day interactions. As a result, we must fit a greater number of experiences with people into our basic cultural categories.
We have become more dependent on a basic set of shared experiences to feel comfortable with other people. These basic experiences have been discovered by those who want to gain an audience, whether that is the TV news, social media, or a church focused on numerical growth.
The old adage, “If it bleeds it leads” became the hallmark of the evening news, and social media had its own way to discover and feature visual or disturbing content. So too does the pastor who, in seeking to energize his congregation, takes note of how people respond to his sidebars on politics and social issues over his teaching from God’s Word.
Culture, on its own, magnifies our sense of distrust and lack of perspective. When we encounter something we don’t understand, our natural response is to be curious and learn more.
We used to turn to someone we could trust and have a conversation about it. Now we reach for our phones to Google the answer. In doing so, we give that place of authority to whoever could get their page highest in the rankings, or to the organization that we let dominate our inbox or online world.
Media and culture are a particularly powerful combination, and for many Christians, the two terms are synonymous. But the effects of media on community are less understood.
In particular, media has contributed to the separation of culture and community. As a result, we are less likely to know our neighbors who we can see, and more likely to imagine an enemy we can’t.
Problems with People
People used to be the solution. We could solve any problem without the help of someone else.
Now we turn to systems to solve our problems with people. But those systems can create more problems than they solve.