The Dark Side of the Tipping Point

What I’m about to explain is my observation of trends, fashion and popularity. There is also no moral attachment to outcomes of what’s described… I don’t believe there is a better or worse, this is just the way I see things happen.

I’ve started seeing it happen in my Facebook feed. A couple weeks or so ago I began to see random people (of some connection obviously or they wouldn’t be in my FB feed) start posting videos of themselves dumping ice cold water over their heads. Then more and more, day by day I saw people, some now that I knew, start posting those videos and challenging others to raise money for ALS. And then it became pretty much my entire feed, on Facebook, and twitter…..everyone was raising money by putting ice cold water on their heads. And it was on the morning shows….it has now reached the tipping point of mass awareness and consumption.

…..cue the haters.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, but its just a reality. If you have ever read the book “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, you are familiar with the phrase and how he dissects how certain things, whether its a catch-phrase or TV show, can reach that tipping point and cross boundaries into the populous of the majority.

Now for whatever reason, when this happens, there is inevitably an accompanying dark side that comes along with “acceptance by the masses.” It happens all the time in the entertainment and arts world. There’s a new breakout show that “everyone” that is “cool” or “hip” is raving over. As a result, more people watch, and more people watch, then all of the sudden….too many people watch and its no longer this minority of cultural creatives that know about it, but everyone is talking about it….and it gets flipped on. The most recent example of this I can think of is “Duck Dynasty.” Once they were everywhere….and I mean everywhere, it wasn’t the thing “you gotta watch.”

You’ve probably heard someone say “I finally decided to spike my hair, and now everyone’s parting it again,” or “why are they rolling up their pants….I thought we quit doing that?!?” It happens in fashion especially. Things are really cyclical, so once something is a definite “no-no” across the board….get ready to see it again 🙂

In music it can be a bitter-sweet pill to swallow. I remember when Coldplay first came out. All of the cool kids were going bonkers over “clocks.”  Then after about a year, you couldn’t get away from “clocks”….it was everywhere: intros to TV shows, radio spots, commercials, etc…. And then “clocks” was no longer cool.

For whatever reason, for something to be trendy, it can only be cool until that point where it is accepted by the populous at large, then it is not. I don’t know why this is, but this has been my observance in our culture for the past decade.

So what does this mean in the world of church programs and presentations? It doesn’t mean we should chase cool….thats futile and really not what guiding peoples spiritual formation is about. It conversely doesn’t mean we ignore cultural trends and stick our heads in the sand about where people are at, what they are watching or listening to. It means more than ever, we have to be in our world, but not of it. Knowing the trends that are taking place, knowing the cycles that happen in our communities and using them as an engagement point to draw people’s attention to the timelessness and steadfastness of Jesus…that’s what we do.

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