A week ago my 90’s Christian Kid life was turned upside down. The long dormant DC Talk Facebook page posted a picture with just four numbers: 2017.
The image was shared over 5,000 times on Facebook and liked by nearly twice as many people. 1,300 comments speculated on what it could mean. A new album? A reunion tour? A presidential bid? (Let’s be honest, anything could happen this election.)
The hype-machine kept pulling at the heartstrings of former church kids around the nation. With every cryptic post, we fondly thought back to the Jesus Freak posters hung in our youth rooms. I could practically feel the lumpy half-broken couch underneath me as I sat and contemplated what the first Christian supergroup was about unveil.
My money was on a reunion super tour. With Michael Tait’s successful takeover of fellow 90’s Christian supergroups Newsboys and Kevin Max’s recent infiltration of Audio Adrenaline they were poised to launch a tour that no former WWJD bracelet-wearing teen would be able to resist.
We were given a date, May 11, when all would be revealed. DC Talks Facebook page teased the week away, complete with the newly minted #dctalk2017 hashtag. Pictures of the band and throwback videos had us all bathing in nostalgia by the time the announcement date arrived. With baited breath we waited, holding the CD flippers we dug out of the trunk for comfort.
Finally, a video was posted and the world let out a collective squeal of delight in response to the news. DC Talk… was going… to get back together…
… for a cruise.
Are you kidding me?
The backlash was understandably quick and fierce. Of the thousands of comments (which I briefly skimmed), they all fell into two categories. People were either decrying the pathetic payoff to a week of hype, or being good Christians and cautioning against judging others. What I didn’t see is anyone saying, “I booked my tickets already!”
Nobody seems to think it’s an amazing bit of news. And while I’m sure they’ll sell a lot of tickets and have a jolly ol’ time on the merry seas, it’s hard not to laugh at how horribly wrong this went.
Hype is like a bazooka; if you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll probably just blow yourself up.Click To Tweet
Too many organizations think “hype” is the magic fairy dust that turns a mediocre event into an amazing experience. Hype does not increase excitement, it increases expectation. Meet those expectations and you’ll have a very excited crowd, but fail to meet the and, well, you start to understand how mutinies work.
If you’re planning an event, camp, trip, retreat, or meetup and you’re tempted to drink from the fountain of hype, here are a few things to keep in mind.
If Everything is Awesome, Nothing Is
The truth is, not all events (or announcements) are created equal. Some things are just objectively more awesome than others. The boy who cried wolf has been replaced by the hashtag that cried awesome, and folks are skeptical of anything that promises it is going to be amazing.
For example, even this DC Talk cruise thing is confusing to me. A DC Talk concert? Awesome! A DC Talk concert every day for a week? I’d probably be playing shuffleboard instead of listening to “What If I Stumble” a half-dozen times.
We’re tired of being let down because promoters and planners are convinced they must out-hype the competition. If your event isn’t mind blowing, it can still be good. In fact…
“Kinda Cool” is OK
Most of the positive experiences in my life were not mind-blowing. I know some youth pastors who are convinced every Wednesday needs to be the most amazing night ever. Honestly, that’s exhausting. Sometimes I just want to have a decent time with some good people.
This DC Talk cruise will probably be kinda cool. I bet a lot of people will have a really fun time.
When we over-hype events they can become intimidating. We fear unmet expectations, and that stress keeps us from just enjoying a pretty good time. We don’t need to convince everyone things are going to be amazing, we just need to do the best we can because…
Awesome Things Hype Themselves
When you have a really great event or experience, you don’t need a social media page to tell you. Plan the best thing you can, and then tell people what you have planned. It couldn’t be simpler.
It is a lot more fun to exceed expectations than miss the mark. If you really care about building something people will enjoy (and not a quick flash-in-the-pan or money grab) it is much wiser to build a reputation of quality events.
Hype is a seductive shortcut for promoters, but a dangerous tool. It can cause us to stumble, and maybe even fall. Hype can make fools of us all. DC Talk has long known “Love is a Verb” but perhaps they now understand “Hype” is a promise.