The Medium of Geek

I was speaking with a guy I work with today. We were discussing a policy to record communication with our missionaries so that we were sure to have a record of their activities, news and progress on their ministry plan. The idea that we'd have interesting information for future missionary biographies was an interesting support for such policy. As soon as we started talking about dealing with the telephone, somehow his brain started hearing the word "record" in a different context. While I continued to use it to reference the general writing down of things, he began to think more specifically of the audio recording of the conversation. It took awhile to track down the change in definition and it was confusing for both of us.

I would argue that the reason that he switched so quickly to a more complicated understanding of the word "record" is partially because of the techy medium used to communicate it. In less jargony terms, I (the geek) was the person talking about it.

It is very normal for people talking to me to assume that I'm looking for the most heavily geeky solution to a problem and in some cases even put up defenses to maintain simplicity. (The guys here at FIM aren't like that. That's a blessing.) I'm not talking about people with limited mental capacity, I'm talking about very smart people with incredibly abilities. This is support to the idea that the medium is the message. I've found that in order for me to truly be able to communicate effectively in a technological context, I must blow away the preconceptions people have about me (the medium) and reconstruct that. I am the medium and the only way to change their resistance to receiving this message is to change what they think about the medium.

One of the ways I try to do this is through sharing my passion through our vision and mission in this phrase. "We desire to inspire the next generation of missionaries by facilitating personal relationships with current missionaries". I can see certain demographic groups light up when they hear that. It is exciting to them, then another group typically glazes over when I start speaking and never really hears it. I do struggle with this. Sometimes I think I could say "the sky is blue" and I'd hear, "I don't think I can handle that, can't you just do it for me?" in response.

It is too daunting a task to "simply do it" for everyone. It is my mission to "facilitate". My goal is to personally digest all the information that might be of use to missionaries and provide them with the small slice that could be helpful to them through training, suggestions and encouragement. I've seen this work great already in the past two years. I've seen many times where this has totally flopped.

In conclusion, i don't have the answers. I'm still exploring how this could work better, how to break through perceptions, how to be seen not as a geek, but a helpful resource in communication. I'm very open to your input. What do you think?

Some missionaries that I know try not to have their communications recorded. Often I don't hear from these missionaries for years, but when I do, I am blown away with the reports. God is moving in corners of the world of which we have known very little in the past. His name will get the praise.

A great way to get to know field missionaries is to meet them on the field. The late, great Ralph Winter suggested that short term trips burn up resources that could be better used by those stationed full time on the field. I think that short term trips generate a high level of missions interest that may not have otherwise occurred. So...I support short term missions activities. Of course, the reason missionaries come home on furlough (apart from being refreshed by family and friends) is to meet new people and form supporting relationships.