I had a great conversation last week with a client from a church here in Nashville. Our conversation about promoting an upcoming project turned into a discussion about mySpace.com. He told me that the youth pastor at his church has his own page on mySpace so he can "be where his kids are."
Turns out it's been a really good way to stay in touch with his students and more interestingly, it's created an opportunity for this pastor to see who and what his kids are into. It's even spurred some conversations both individually and in the group setting. The youth pastor has discovered topics he needed to address that he wouldn't have known about without spending some time on mySpace.
My brief history with mySpace
I first heard about mySpace a year ago (Spring 2005) as something that a lot of bands were getting into to promote their music. Over the next few months the national media seemed to really catch wind with the massive numbers of teenagers and young adults on mySpace. mySpace made news again last summer when Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought them out. Sometime last fall I began to read stories about the "evils" of mySpace and finally this spring it seems like that sentiment has really taken root. It's almost as if it's become a very simple equation in people's minds: mySpace = bad.
The fact of the matter is that mySpace is neither bad nor good just like the Internet is neither bad nor good. mySpace is, however, new, very popular, and has been adopted by millions of teens.
What concerns me is that it has become easier for people to simply think "mySpace = bad" rather than spend some time like the youth pastor I described above did and go where the kids are. In fact, a large Christian publisher here in Nashville just recently decided not to promote a national youth outreach event on mySpace for this very reason. The option was discussed but quickly decided that going where the kids are wasn't worth the potential uproar they might encounter by creating an event promotion page on mySpace.
I can't help but wonder what kind of opportunity was lost here. The very kids this publisher would say they hope to reach are the ones on mySpace 10 times a day...and now they may never even find out about it. mySpace is a perfectly viral medium, but it won't be for this publisher. They blew a business opportunity and a ministry opportunity. Perhaps after this they will reconsider for the future and change the equation to "mySpace = neutral" and then possibly one day, "mySpace = good outreach opportunity."