An intriguing question we constantly ask ourselves at Here I Am is what is at the center of the lives of people today. In a world of infinite online choices available to anyone at any time, this question becomes more difficult to answer.
For hundreds (and thousands) of years, the center of one’s life was the community and groups where they physically resided. Government town halls served this purpose for management of a community. Central marketplaces served the purpose for fair commerce and trade. The church served this purpose for spiritual development, providing the space, leadership and structure within a community to bring people together and provide a constant stream of support.
As communication improved – slowly at first, and then rapidly in our digital age – the center of people’s lives became accessible on a global scale. A multitude of options from anywhere in the world now exist for individuals to pick where the center of their lives will be. Government forums and laws have moved from a local level to national level. Marketplaces moved from Main Street to Amazon. Local churches influence wanes as people can find (and easily change) who they follow ‘religiously’ – whether a church online or the latest TikTok star.
Smartphone technology initially promised the ability to choose from an infinite number of options as people worked to find their new center. Thousands of apps were made to connect people, but have been consolidated to mega platforms like Facebook, TikTok and a handful of other mediums. Hundreds of thousands of apps were built to aid in shopping, but over time people have consolidated to Amazon, Wal-Mart and other large chains. Millions of apps were made for local organizations, but were dwarfed by much larger players in the app space – drowning out apps for the local organization.
Smartphone app stores that initially encouraged anyone to develop an app have reversed direction, enabling fewer and fewer apps to be available. Whether this is for quality standards, security, or financial reasons – only a few apps are now actively promoted on devices respective app stores. This consolidation removed the infinite number of options available and support the fewer, larger options that we have today.
So – what is now at the center of our lives? Instead of a handful of options at the community level for a person to choose from, they can now choose from a global offering. However, this does not mean millions of options from communities around the globe – rather it is consolidated with fewer, large options that have supplanted a very large number of small local options.
Here I Am is working to reverse this trend, working to keep local faith organizations front and center for our spiritual development. While we now live in a connected, global world, the support, love, and physical connection remains at the local level. We strive to keep the local church at the center of this by providing them with accessible smartphone technology.
Written by Tom York