Sometimes we see trends or patterns and think they are pretty dumb. Maybe even reach the level of stupid. When those dumb things are at a societal level, we need to realize that is the way the world is working and engage the world as it is, not as we think it ought to be. My comments here are focused on Facebook, but the same idea applies to lots of things in our life.
I have plans for several posts about social media. A large portion of the readers of this blog will likely think some of the underlying behavior patterns in social media are dumb. You may be right, but that doesn’t matter.
For example: there are a reported 500,000,000 registered users of Facebook and 30,000,000 at LinkedIn. We need to ponder what that means for our tax practices, ministry outreach, fundraising, and recruiting.
Another example: It is reported that the average person logged in to Facebook spends an hour a day at Facebook. Not an hour surfing lots of different web sites, but just Facebook. If you say that is dumb and there a lot of people who have too much time on their hands, I would understand. Final example: It is also reported that people under 25 spend something in the range of 90% of their on-line time at Facebook. When I read that, my first thought was ‘you’re kidding me, right?’
So, we are left with a very rough composite picture of 500M users of Facebook with a huge portion of those spending an hour a day there, and a major portion of certain demographics spending little time elsewhere.
Here is where we need to engage the world the way it is. You and I may roll our eyes and mutter under our breath. You and I may wish that all those people would get more serious and be more like you and me. (that’s a joke in case you missed it) Those opinions are irrelevant. Those stats reflect the world the way it is today. We can grump, or we can ignore it, or we can say 500M registered users is a just a passing fad. (If that is just a fad, suppose it would be a good fad to engage with for the duration?)
The alternative, I suggest, is we engage the world as it is. Recognize there are a ton of people who spend a ton of time on Facebook. Figure out how that affects you ministry or business. Work with it.
If you are a CPA firm looking to recruit college seniors, where do you think they are hanging out? Maybe you should get into Facebook, find where accounting students are, figure out the social rules for that setting, and then hang out there.
If you are running a youth ministry, where do you think the high schoolers or college students are that you want to connect with? Maybe you should be there. And if you are a 50-year old elder that doesn’t understand why your 25-old youth director is always on Facebook, you need to realize that is where he or she is doing an incredible amount of ministry.
If you are involved with church evangelism, where do you think you might find a bunch of people who are looking for a church or wanting to deal with some of those soul-deep questions in the back of their mind? Yellow pages are not going to work. You need to be in the social media world.
Finally, if your target market is people in their teens, 20s and 30s, where can you find a whole bunch of people who might really like your product? Get to where they already are.
You may think those stats I mentioned about social media are dumb. Or silly. Or even a waste of their time. However, your opinion and my opinion really do not matter. That’s the way people are now.
We need to engage the world as it is.