One of my favorite movies of all time is You’ve Got Mail—the Nora Ephron written and directed, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan acted, rom-com that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
There. I said it.
Much of what I love about it is the nostalgia, and Millennials would probably feel it even more than I would. The AOL greeting when signing in, “bouquets of sharpened pencils,” an actual bookstore, The Godfather quotes… it had a little bit of everything for me.
This made it all the more painful when some staffers at Marie Claire decided to honor the movie’s 20th anniversary by showing it to a group of their Generation Z coworkers. Painful, in that it was largely lost on them. Not the story itself, mind you, just the cultural nostalgia many of us so love.
But it’s understandable, and a good reminder of how that world no longer exists.
The demise of small bookstores under the weight of big-box stores? Oh my. Most of the big-box stores are even gone. And the ones that are left? We’re actually rooting for them! (Hang in there, Barnes and Noble!)
Chat rooms? Really?
Rent control for $450 a month? That’s reached the point of comical.
And logging on to the internet through a dial-up connection? What does that even mean? Even the very use of AOL for email or anything else tends to mark you as over-50 (guilty!), which is why even the title of the movie is lost on younger ears.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Realizing how much things change. And how quickly. Even after just 20 years.
This needs to serve as a reminder to us, how the coming generations we need to reach through our churches have grown up in a very different world, and we need something different than a dial-up modem to connect with them. Why?
Because while you get “You’ve got mail,”
… they don’t.
James Emery White
Cady Drell and Danielle McNally, “We Showed ‘You've Got Mail’ to Our Gen-Z Coworkers and Now Feel Very Old,” Marie Claire, August 1, 2018, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.