Overcoming the Generation Gaps

During the first few months of running of branding agency full-time I was approached by a company that needed assistance writing book proposals. Now, I had never written book proposals before and I was nervous about accepting the assignment, but with no other clients at the moment, I reluctantly agreed.

The book proposal writing went very well. The last section that I needed to complete was the marketing demographics. This quickly became an issue because I had no idea who the author’s audience was and none of the material that the client had given be was very helpful.

I started researching women’s demographics by age, religious affiliation, educational levels and annual income. Something interesting popped up in my search. A generation breakdown by age from ages 60-30 (in order from oldest to youngest). So, this particular article educated me on the differences among Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y (Millennials). Needless to say, I have continued to research the generations since that time because of my family makeup: my father is a Traditionalist, my mother is a Baby Boomer, my husband and I are Gen Xers, our older children are Millennials and our younger children are a part of Gen Z, which I recently learned. I was not aware that our younger children were a part of an entirely different generation. I have been fascinated with researching the Generations ever since.

For my digital presentation, I started looking at the issues that Gen Z have with going to church. I even polled my own Gen Zers who summed up the sentiments of the other Gen Zers that I have spoken to (who were the target group for this assignment). The only difference is that our children do not have a choice about whether they go to church or not, unlike some of the youth that I know.

Interestingly enough, Gen Z’s sentiments are very closely aligned with those of their older sibling Generation Y. Earlier, I read an article by Sam Eaton titled “59 Percent of Millennials Raised in Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why.”

The issues in that article were less related to the communication breakdown between the generations and more an issue of eroded bonded social capital, yet these same issues are reoccurring between both groups: lack of concern for poor, distrust of proper allocation of resources and overall rejection of church as essential for life.

I stated in my conclusion that even though the youth had a right to address their concerns regarding attending services, they too, could have stated their issues differently. Baby Boomers cannot handle disloyalty, defiance, disrespect and that is how the teens statements were automatically perceived. Had the teens, addressed the group as “Elders” and given them more respect, the Baby Boomer group may have been more amenable to addressing their concerns. The older group was more struck with how the youth addressed them than the issues that the youth brought up. This is proved when the older group hesitantly agreed to one of their concerns almost immediately.

This assignment gave me an opportunity to really use the Habermas theory to solve a communication problem that I could actually experience in real life as a church consultant.  Last week when I first attempted this assignment I was trying shortcuts that I learned in earlier classes. As a result, there was a bad echo when I would playback my videos. I finally learned that the echo was caused because my computer microphone was also recording the video causing the echo and distortion.

I also discovered an app called Download 6 that allows you to save YouTube videos directly into your iTunes or in a download folder on your phone. In past semesters, I had found another hack that was no longer working, but it was not as nearly as easy as this one. I was able to download the YouTube video in the presentation in less than 3 minutes. Also, I decided to watch some tutorials on Keynote because I was literally doing my presentations twice because I did not know how to do anything in it except open my PowerPoint file and record the narration.

After three classes, I feel more confident about my digital presentation than ever before.

References

Eaton, S. (2017, February). 59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why. Faith It. Retrieved from: http://faithit.com/12-reasons-millennials-over-church-sam-eaton/

Ihlen, Ø., Fredriksson, M., & Ruler, B. V. (2009). Public relations and social theory: key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

McArthur, J. A. (2014). Planning for strategic communication: a workbook for applying social theory to professional practice. Charlotte, NC: John A. McArthur.

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