Social Networking in 2020

While the church is busy adapting to the emerging wired culture, have you ever wondered what this wired culture of ours is going to look like in another decade? Given it could take churches a decade to adapt, you’ve gotta ask, what should churches be adapting to? To the world as it is now? Or to the world as it will be by the time we get there? It seems to me that focussing on the now will guarantee you’ll be left behind. So here’s a few articles to stir the pot:

Wireless Social Networking To Generate $2.5 Trillion By 2020 According to this article, electronic marketing research company iSuppli has predicted wireless social networking products, services, applications, components, and advertising will generate more than $2.5 trillion in revenue by 2020, stating that companies that can’t keep up could become irrelevant (and one must ask about churches too eh?). iSuppli analyzed social networking and found three levels of interaction for users: immediate family and close friends, extended friends, and shared interest groups (sound familiar?). iSuppli predicted wireless devices are likely to become the primary means of communicating, accessing content, and using applications by 2018. (can a church ignore the primary means of communicating?)

Social Networking More Popular Than Email “Stats from Nielsen Online show that by the end of 2008, social networking had overtaken email in terms of worldwide reach. According to the study, 66.8% of Internet users across the globe accessed ‘member communities’ last year, compared to 65.1% for email. The most popular online activities remain search and Web portals (with around 85% reach) and the websites of software manufacturers … As has been reported elsewhere, Facebook’s fastest growth demographic is older users” (so, it’s not just a young persons game anymore)

The future of social networks “If we are here in ten years talking about profiles, web sites or social networks, something is really wrong. Social networks will be woven into every product and thing we touch”

I Saw The Future Of Social Networking The Other Day “Imagine walking into a meeting, classroom, party, bar, subway station, airplane, etc. and seeing profile information about other people in the area, depending on privacy settings.” (And no doubt these profiles will include religious preferences and other information)

The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras “Expect the Groundswell to continue, in which people connect to each other – rather than institutions”

It’s this last comment that I find particularly pertinent. It has implications for all institutions. And some of the suggestions it lists for companies could be equally thought provoking for churches, even should they choose not to follow blindly. So, where from there?

6 thoughts on “Social Networking in 2020

  1. Personally, this all scares the sh*t out of me! What about good ol’ face-to-face or telephone? You can’t “love your neighbour” practically via networking, so what will the future be for incarnational evangelism? (If you don’t hang out with someone, how can you say you love them, or *truly* share the gospel with them?) On a positive note, I do have a high regard for e-mail, particularly its ability to accommodate attachments.


  2. I’m not sure you understand the full implications. It means, amongst other things, that as you walk down the street you may be approached by a complete stranger who says, hey Ian, I’m really interested in chess and musical composition and advanced mathematics and how they all fit together, you sound like a cool dude, wanna join me for a beer?
    Wireless social networking would mean profile exchanges are going on everywhere, via mobiles in the street, not just via laptops in your living room.


  3. “Imagine walking into a meeting, classroom, party, bar, subway station, airplane, etc. and seeing profile information about other people in the area, depending on privacy settings.”
    That will be handy, if only to let me know someone’s name at the start of a conversation!
    The five eras article was interesting – they predict that before 2015 the eras of social colonisation, context and commerce will kick in…
    That’s one thing for people with the technology, but I wonder what (if anything) it all means for those with limited access to technology.


  4. “…but I wonder what (if anything) it all means for those with limited access to technology” – Eric
    I am anticipating it will lead to new forms of social disadvantage and social isolation. Imagine how it could empower con men and paedophiles. Imagine how it could disempower the elderly even further. Imagine how it could enable prosperity churches to better target “prospects”, imagine how it could contribute to the loneliness of those without good networks of friends. Churches need to get ready for this too.


  5. Great reading. I’ve been quite active on Twitter in the past six months and noticed two things. First, nothing I’ve ever done in Hong Kong has helped me meet more new people or find more new insights into living in this city. Second, nothing I’ve ever done online has helped my grow my small business network more effectively than twitter.
    The important thing some people miss about social media, especially Twitter, is the more opportunity to meet people and build real world networks. As a result of being on Twitter and focussing on local conversations I’m having far more, not less, face to face interactions.


  6. Speaking of this, the other night I was contacted on Facebook by a missionary visiting Sydney from Tamil Nadu in India. He was looking for mission mineded Baptists in the area. So I organised for him to be picked up and join us for the Sunday service. He brought along another Christian friend whom he was staying with. Turned out this other guy not only had connections with another member of our congregation, he has connections with other Tamils running interesting missional projects in suburbs near us. So, another example of online networking translating into face to face. But in this case it has extended both my international and local contacts simultaneously.


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