Media and How we Use Them

How we use media varies depending upon age
and our needs in life.

As I noted in an earlier post, I’ve been reading the results of several research projects that our organization has going. It’s revealing and interesting.

It’s market research, but many in the religious communities are uncomfortable with the use of “market” language. My attitude toward this is that I want to understand what people are thinking, what they’re doing, and what concerns them. I can’t do ministry effectively with them if I don’t know these things. So, whatever you call it, getting to know your audience in order to work with them in a partnership, is good. In my view, that’s all market research is.

What we’re hearing is that people want similar things–to be connected with others, to be safe and secure, and to have the opportunity to grow and develop. We all use different words for these desires and we use media differently to gain some of them. And while we all give approximations of the same needs, it looks to me as if our experiences are considerably different. We have been born into different media eras and this creates a different life experience.

Elders (60 and above) who were born into the media world of movie newsreels and heard the birth of radio, experience the search for meaningful relationships differently from Mosaics (18 to 21-yrs-old) who are born into a world of cellphones, 100 channel television, text messages and iPod video. Boomers (41-59) experienced the power of television images (from three networks) from Vietnam and burning Freedom Rider busses in the South to create social change. They share a different experience of media and the world than Busters (22-40) who have been born into the world of MTV, video games and a computer on every desktop at home and at work.

As generations we use media differently and we view the world through the lenses (and other filters) of the media that contribute to our world-view. Always-plugged-in-Mosaics who are connected with friends through text messages have a different understanding of the technology than Boomers who are still sending e-mail.

Recently, we talked at work about the obsolescence of CDs. A technology that is only a few years old is already way past its prime. Therefore, knowing which audience still uses it, and who doesn’t, is critical if you want to communicate.

How do you use media? What is your generational experience of the various media that now shape our views about the world, and ourselves? Is it a source of community, experience, entertainment, all of these and more? I’m interested.

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