Youth groups used to be able to pull all sorts of teens together by a single poster advertising “all you can eat burger bash for a buck.” Then, it got a little trickier to get students’ attention amidst the various activities of the 1990s. Now, in most contexts, it’s downright difficult to find time slots to pull a group of youth together and talk. Or have a youth group meeting. Or a campfire.
At one time in American history, teens would sit around a campfire for hours and talk. Well, they still like to do that, just not as often. It wasn’t about the campfire, but the interaction (and occasional romance) among peers, a chance to joke, talk, laugh, and even cry together. That function hasn’t gone away, though, the campfire has burned out a bit. Now, social media provides that reinforcement, as the latest report from youth trends argues. Myspace declines, though it’s music traffic is up. Facebook continues to become more about adults, very old adults even, while Friendster dominates the social networking scene in Asia.
I’m excited to read the latest from Douglas Rushkoff, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for Digital Age, a look at the impact of the “text” of social media on us (not just youth).
Some predict a reaction against the digitization of social interactions, that retailers will develop social events that promote “co-shopping” where people get discounts and receive benefits for visiting retailers. It’s quite possible that youth ministry groups can find a renewed interest in certain types of meet-ups that find their origin and coordination in the digital world. Someone is going to be ahead of this trend and get it right, create the model, and many will copy. Anyone already seeing some success here?
[Developed from a post on ymerge.net on 6/18/10]