Blogger: Rachel Kent
I was flipping through a copy of CBA Retailers & Resources (April 2013) today and was drawn to an article about “The Nones.” This is the name given to young people between the ages of 18-29 who claim no religious affiliation. As a member of this “generation,” I was interested to see what the theories were as to why so many of my generation claim not to believe in any religion and are turning away from the church. If you are interested in reading the article, it’s on page 26 here. The article’s purpose is to help Christian retailers understand the “Nones” and to reach them appropriately.
It stood out to me that throughout the article the members of this generation are referred to as kids. I assume that many professionals who work in the CBA market, like me, are between the ages of 18 and 29, and this article is included in a publication targeted at CBA retailers. “Kids” is not the word I would use to describe an entire generation of adults. Many of these adults are married, own homes, own businesses, have children and work hard each day regardless of their religious beliefs.
The article also tends to group those with religious beliefs (75%) into the same group as those without (25%). The generation is referred to in the article as the “Nones” instead of just those in the generation without any beliefs. For example, “Barreto sees many Nones who attend two or three churches each week. ‘These are the “hard core” believing kids.'”
Through the misuse of two words–“kids” and “Nones”–the article’s intended impact is lost. By calling the generation “kids,” the article puts it into the retailer’s mind that this generation isn’t one to be respected and treated as adults. Generalizing the entire generation as “Nones” gives retailers the impression the entire generation is an unbelieving generation when in fact the majority of the 18- to 29-year-olds still do believe in something. Neither of these generalizations will help the retailers to reach this generation.
I would like to encourage you to use this article as a reminder to avoid generalizations in both your subject and your audience. When you’re writing about any topic, don’t assume that you know all about that subject based on your own opinion. Keep an open mind and do your research. In the case of this article, it would have been nice to see some quotes from 18- to 29-year-olds. When it comes to your audience, if you are writing for young adults, don’t assume that because you know one or two that you know them all. Or if you are writing for children, be sure to immerse yourself in working with children–maybe through Sunday school at church–so that you can really get to know the group you are writing for.
How could you get to know your audience better? Are there meetings you could attend or online groups you could join?
What kind of research would help to strengthen your understanding of the topic you are writing about?
Watch out for generalizations in your writing! via @rachellkent Click to tweet.
Don’t assume you know your audience based on your opinion of them. Do your research. Click to tweet.