At a stake conference held in a college fieldhouse, the lights dimmed for the video presentation and scores of little blue lights glowed from the seats across from my section. I’d seen good Mormons—mostly male—using iPods, iPhones, Game Boys, and, less recently, Time Magazines and Harbor Freight Tool Catalogs to get through church meetings. Still, the darkened fieldhouse and stadium seating revealed a surprisingly high percentage of people tuned elsewhere during a meeting.
Is this a phenomenon of Mormon culture? Although iPhones are everywhere, I have not noticed parishioners sneaking peaks at semi-covered Blackberries when I visit other churches. Possibly that’s because meetings at other churches don’t run for three hours. It’s also possible that their meetings are more interesting—or maybe other denominations exert less pressure for members to attend every meeting every Sunday.
For decades Mormon parents have brought toys and snacks to occupy children during Sacrament Meeting. Web-enabled devices might be a logical extension of this tradition to teens and adults. As availability of web-based media increases, speakers and class instructors will find themselves more frequently directing comments to the tops of heads bowed over illuminated screens. The solution, of course, is for the instructors to text their remarks and questions to class members who could text back answers. No more agonizing waits for hands to raise. E-connected classes would still be held in ward meetinghouses, of course, to provide fellowshipping and to be sure everyone is plugged in.
Now, if we could just make it acceptable for adults to bring snacks more sustaining than breath mints to get us through the 3-hour block!