My Boomer Social Media Rant
A few weeks ago I met an expert in social media and he invited me to speak at his conference. I spoke on " The New Stewardship and Social Media" and received great response with this caveat "He knows a lot about stewardship and it was very valuable. But he doesn't know much about social media." So I began meeting with Michael Forney of Mission Igniters to learn from him.
I am 54 and very much a boomer in my life filter, opinions, and modeling from the builder generation. Yet I read and study about changing trends and try to be with the curve and sometimes ahead of it. After all, my DMIN was Leadership in the Emerging Culture and I sat under some leaders in this area of study. (Pride goes before the fall.)
Then I spoke to my friends Steve Thomas and Kris Hoots of Oneicity. I offered that social media was still unproven and therefore still a "wait and see" strategy. They then informed me of very successful examples of how organizations had used social media, that many components were proven, and that there was much to learn and use.
I even have a 25 year-old son and a 23 year-old daughter who are immersed in social media in their lives and in their ministry. So I was convinced I knew something about social media because I was around it so much. (I do have a Facebook page and I am on Twitter FYI.)
But I was wrong.
What Michael shared with me were basic concepts we boomers are trying to analyze, measure, and put in a box that we can sell. We boomers do that, you know! Social Media is more than tools. (I call them tools; Michael calls them platforms.) It is a continuation of relationships on levels and social networks that we boomers (and others) have a difficult time understanding and assimilating into our world of structures.
So as I continue to learn about Social Media, I have discovered and am learning to accept the following:
- Whatever generation uses Social Media (Mosiac, Buster, Millennial, etc.) they know better than us boomers what they are using, doing, and want to do. I resist this, as I believe my experience gives me an advantage in learning new technologies, etc. But not this time. They know what they are doing and why, and are not necessarily concerned that we understand it.
- They will say they believe there should be rules governing Social Media, but they themselves will not commit to obeying those rules. (I.e. "Why is my boss reading my Facebook page? Hey, that's not fair.")
- The local church or church at large must (or is) adapting to use Social Media, and must see it as an extension of relationships, not a marketing tool to "get" something.
- While we know there must be some structure and systems to run organizations, movements, etc., the Social Media generation is not ready to admit that yet. They want to be clear of organizational ties and limitations. For example, when they texted to Haiti and gave $10, they did not know nor care that the money was used by the large organization Red Cross. They believed the perception that their gift began serving people in Haiti immediately. Another example is about a pastor in the Atlanta area who used Twitter to relay messages about children trapped in a building in Haiti. Through various contacts, FOX news and CNN were directed to the building and saved the children. Fix the problem immediately!
- And finally, we know that Social Media can be used for bad and good. We have seen some of the bad on news reports. The good can be seen as a form of stewardship. On one level, everything you do on Social Media is a giving of oneself. You give information to a friend or group of friends, you set up a meeting to gather people together for a cause, or you can share your heart with those you care about. Using Social Media can be a good form of stewardship, if used properly.
There you have my rant. It is not out of disrespect or disbelief in Social Media. It is an aging boomer admitting that I do not want to be left behind in being relevant. To be a follower of Jesus and to assist people in being good stewards requires that I continually learn. It seems as I get older I naturally start to defend what I have been a part of for 30 years. Yet, just as when I was in my 20's I said what my 23 year-old daughter just said to me, "Dad, you can't put new wine in old wineskins."
That doesn't mean I am on old wineskin. It means I must continually be renewing my wineskin to make sure it can handle the new wine God is bringing into my life, my ministry, and my community. With God I can do all things!
Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE
Author, Teacher, Consultant