Ever wonder if some people exist solely to irritate others, with their attitude, personality or personal habits? Technology gives us an increasing arsenal to annoy one another.
For example, a text-only message, lacking nuance, could be seen as funny, sarcastic, cruel or just plain tacky, depending on the reader.
Maybe you would like to be more irritating or want to help your church be so. Here are 10 principles to using technology and communications to help:
1) Leave it out. Promoting an event? Assume people already know the date, time and location. Take for granted they know last names, churchy acronyms and for whom an activity is planned.
2) Leave it off. If you or your church has a website, make sure it is difficult to discover who you are, how to contact you or how to report a problem. Or, just leave off area codes from phone numbers and zip codes from addresses.
Use social networking? Your church can include cryptic postings and minimal information, reducing the possibility of comprehension, let alone receiving personal or private messages, from those with needs.
3) Leave it alone. Proofreading is for the weak. Don't utilize a second set of eyes.
4) If it ain't fixed, keep it broke. Answering machines and voice mail systems that don't answer, connect or transfer correctly will help callers experience phone purgatory. Broken links, missing web pages, unresponsive response forms and links that go to unintended destinations can add extra mystery to each contact.
5) If it ain't current, don't sweat it. Leave things as they are rather than replacing them. Dingy signs and posters, out-of-date maps, flyers that still promote the last Vacation Bible School — in January — may still appeal to someone. Your church sign and website can refer to old staff. Let the last update or posting be from last year, or leave pictures up way, way past their prime.
6) Include it all. Why waste all that space with pictures and graphics, when you can cram more information onto a sign, PowerPoint slide or flyer? Then you can communicate your message, the plan of salvation, church history and Aunt Betty's fondue recipe all in one place — even if readers don't have the time or patience to read it all.
7) Include everyone. Sending out an e-mail? Make sure each person can see everyone else it went to by not using the BCC (blind copy) address line. (If your e-mails don't show this line, avoid the help tab or F1 button that can give you the answer.) Just because some people prefer to keep certain e-mail addresses private is no reason to avoid including them in that funny forward or unsubstantiated rumor.
Use the Reply All button when a group of people are addressed, even if they wouldn't have any interest in the response, or what you have to say (or the earlier conversation) would not be appropriate for everyone, or your reply is a one-word answer like "Thanks," "Wow!" or "Huh?"
8) Avoid privacy. Parents are too uptight; who cares if they would prefer that a child not be mentioned by picture or name. Privacy laws can be a nuisance. Save yourself some grief and list all prayer requests and personal needs so anyone can see them. That allows more people to pray for them, regardless of their personal preference.
9) Use all the senses. Colors, especially those that have little difference in contrast, fonts (too many or too hard to read) and words on top of pictures can be used together. You also can utilize the other senses, such as smell (musty rooms or overpowering perfume) and touch (uncut grass or parking potholes).
10) Don't stress. Should people complain when you follow the other principles, even constructively, ignore them. Life is too short to worry all the time.
See? It's not that hard to use technology and communication principles to aggravate others. In fact, it often takes very little thought at all.
Ken Satterfield is advertising coordinator for Word&Way.