IVP - Strangely Dim - Facebook Fever

September 5, 2007

Facebook Fever

Likewise Books has Facebook fever. Ever since Facebook--the social networking utility that has linked college students online for years--opened itself to noncollege students, growing numbers of InterVarsity Press employees and Likewise authors have opened accounts and are keeping tabs on one another there.

One of Facebook's standard features is an online poll, updated daily and limited to one thousand responders. I must say some of the polling questions are among the lamest I've encountered online: my favorite so far is "Do you have good taste in music?" But some of them offer interesting insights into what goes on in the Facebooking mind.

Today's poll is "Is the glass half-empty or half-full?" Fully 76 percent of the respondents are, apparently, optimists. (Don't ask me why, because I'm decidedly among the minority. As my beloved daddy regularly reminds me, "An optimist can never be pleasantly surprised.")

There's no negligible difference in outlook between men and women; women may be slightly more optimistic than men, or they may be slightly more inclined to respond to online polls--who can say? The least optimistic age group--only 74 percent of them--are ages 18 to 24, probably because they're just now back in school, trudging into 8 a.m. astronomy class after a summer of sleeping till noon.

The other polling question that caught my eye earlier this summer was the simple, even simplistic, "Are you religious?" The consensus was "No" by a similar margin: 70 percent over 30 percent. I can't decide if I'm surprised by these results or not. I'm also not sure how to interpret them, especially taken together: if three-fourths of the Facebook community are irreligious and generally upbeat, what do you suppose they want to talk about? What do you suppose they want to read about?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 5, 2007 12:07 PM Bookmark and Share


You're right the polls are mostly inane...but the inverse link between optimism and religiosity has either to do with a completely different set of respondents, or those who express a belief that following Jesus is not a religion. I say "express" as it's distressingly possible that it isn't really how they live...that is ti say there's more religion they'd care to admit about their "faith."
Living in a country where only 10% of the population regularly darken the door step of a church, there's anot a high currency for the practice of relgion except at the rugby ground or the netball stadium.

only vaguely cynically yours,

Comment by: Pete Bristow at September 10, 2007 9:17 PM

Falling in line with Christian Smith's massive youth/religion research, I think a majority of Facebook younger patrons (youth/young adult) consider themselves "spiritual", but are quick to dismiss the mega-icky-stale-irrelevant-evoking word "religious"...but then, these days, I find myself doing the same more and more... ;-)

BTW, since I couldn't find ye email addy, just wanted to say how much I LOVE your superhero book,...and thought I would pass this bit of news your way, which fueled new hope into my own aspirations of donning disguise and saving the world (or just climbing the St. Louis Arch) sooner than later:

Comment by: Todd Henry at September 23, 2007 9:50 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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