Question: Is Facebook the New Email?

Remember Juno? I do. My very first email address EVER was vanman@juno.com. I wore “Vans” and couldn’t think of anything else. I was the rip ole age of pimple popping 15 and the year was 1997. I should have stopped while I was ahead. The next month, we got a bill for $300.00 for my MSN Internet usage and I was grounded. Remember paying for the internet by the minute? That noise? Hoping for an AOL CD to come in the mail? I shall digress…

Since then, a whole lot has changed in the world and on the web. As a matter of fact, I used DogPile to search for my post images. Not really, but I checked and the search engine is still around. I wonder what their market share is now days?

Here is my question: Has Facebook become the new email? 

In large part, email is primarily used by adults for communication. Have you ever tried to email a sophomore in high school? Yeah…you get what I’m saying. Like I reminisced before, email used to be cool for students too. Not anymore. MySpace? Old news. Facebook? Cool 4 years ago.

I’ve noticed that my personal/ministry Facebook usage is pretty geared towards staying connected with friends (my age 31), family (telling Aunt Martha no is a lot easier via Facebook), youth ministry volunteers and parents. Am I right? Sure, I still do the obligatory Birthday wishes to students and like photos, but I see a trend changing. Facebook is being taken over by adults and grandparents. Heck my mom got a Facebook at first to see what other people were doing. She didn’t want to comment, she just wanted to stalk. Haha.

As a result to all of this change, I believe Facebook has become the “must have” for any person regardless of age. However, I think students communicate with themselves through other means.

What do they use? 

Texting, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and I’m old and probably forgot something.

So if Facebook is becoming the new email, then how do we need to change our student communication? Do posting events, sending group messages, and status updates resonate with students or is it just another obligatory form of communication?

Let’s chew on this together. Thoughts? 

14 Comments

  1. I can relate! My group is kind of split the older half(Sr. high) are on twitter and whatever else more than FB, but the younger half(Jr. high) are on FB...like ALL THE TIME:) It's kind of funny, but the events work for me. The messages, not so much. I still e-mail parents, but I also send them group messages on FB because some don't have e-mail(go figure). I think it is all about knowing your group and figuring out what works. I make sure to connect as much as possible in person on Sundays if there is something really important that the parents need to know. That works for me since I have a smaller group.
  2. I can relate! My group is kind of split the older half(Sr. high) are on twitter and whatever else more than FB, but the younger half(Jr. high) are on FB...like ALL THE TIME:) It's kind of funny, but the events work for me. The messages, not so much. I still e-mail parents, but I also send them group messages on FB because some don't have e-mail(go figure). I think it is all about knowing your group and figuring out what works. I make sure to connect as much as possible in person on Sundays if there is something really important that the parents need to know. That works for me since I have a smaller group.
  3. Here's the biggest difficulty for those of us who grew up and started our careers in the age of email is that the different social technologies being developed aren't necessarily compatible. So, instead of trying to master a few methods of communication (in the "old" days, we would send out post cards, emails, and then "IM," call, or eventually text students reminders of the event a day or two in advance), we are trying to keep up with changing ways to communicate, connect with students throughout the week, etc. It's not that the technologies are difficult to learn. It's that many of us "older" (30s and up?) youth workers aren't used to having to keep up with different ways to communicate, especially if tinkering with technology isn't something we like to do in our free time. To answer your question: nothing will be the new email, in my opinion. I think email will see a resurgence for more "official" communication as the USPS continues to reduce service and increase rates, and because of that, at the very least parents will have and check email. Technologies that teenagers and young adults use will remain fluid, and we'll be learning how to use something new in five years.
    • Agreed! Although, I'm 31 years old and in youth ministry, I do enjoy technology and tinkering. // I had never thought of the USPS scenario and it's totally plausible. I think email will be around for a long time, but as we want to connect with more and more students (in/outside our group), we'll have to stay on the ball. The challenge for youth pastors is to not put all of our eggs in one communication basket when dealing with students. (a.k.a Facebook, texting, tumblr, etc.) The scene will always be changing.
  4. Here's the biggest difficulty for those of us who grew up and started our careers in the age of email is that the different social technologies being developed aren't necessarily compatible. So, instead of trying to master a few methods of communication (in the "old" days, we would send out post cards, emails, and then "IM," call, or eventually text students reminders of the event a day or two in advance), we are trying to keep up with changing ways to communicate, connect with students throughout the week, etc. It's not that the technologies are difficult to learn. It's that many of us "older" (30s and up?) youth workers aren't used to having to keep up with different ways to communicate, especially if tinkering with technology isn't something we like to do in our free time. To answer your question: nothing will be the new email, in my opinion. I think email will see a resurgence for more "official" communication as the USPS continues to reduce service and increase rates, and because of that, at the very least parents will have and check email. Technologies that teenagers and young adults use will remain fluid, and we'll be learning how to use something new in five years.
    • Agreed! Although, I'm 31 years old and in youth ministry, I do enjoy technology and tinkering. // I had never thought of the USPS scenario and it's totally plausible. I think email will be around for a long time, but as we want to connect with more and more students (in/outside our group), we'll have to stay on the ball. The challenge for youth pastors is to not put all of our eggs in one communication basket when dealing with students. (a.k.a Facebook, texting, tumblr, etc.) The scene will always be changing.

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