Monday, November 8, 2010

TREND: Media is now for tribes connected through short and sweet news

A friend told me he had been to Borders to read some magazines, and found four glossy publications on trains. FOUR!!

Hundred years ago you could rather easily become an expert on things, because the amount of information to absorb was limited. Thinkers like Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was both a mathematician, historian, philosopher, social critic and logician. And further back in history Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), student of Plato, was definitely multi tasking. His writings covered physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology.

Imagine if Aristotle had needed to read FOUR magazines on trains, and another couple of thousands on various topics ranging from fashion to psychology to sports.

Still... inspite of us having such a massive amount of choices, isn´t it incredible how much common knowledge there is? People who live in a certain area seem to get drawn to the same type of media and get excited and engaged in the news presented there. I see now how all the Swedes are going nuts about a new book about our king. My old friends from politics have all been completely focused on the Us mid- term election according to their Facebook status updates. And tribes adoring trains probably find four magazines on trains not being enough. 

Our media consumption is tribal. It defines us and connects us, ¨puts us into boxes and make us feel safe. By knowing what people in your tribe or community know, you feel like you fit in, and you can relax. It´s all about getting a sense of being loved. Protected.

The larger the world becomes, the narrower the tribes. We can be nerds on any subject and yet find a group of others, just as obsessed about shoestrings, fox terriers or tax cuts. At the same time the need to know the exact same as you in the larger community is becoming more important.

But to be able to small talk with all these people who are tribalising themselves into becoming like aliens to others, you need to also have a broader mindset, being able to talk about the latest news, which makes those news shorter and more exposed. 

In a study from North Carolina, people were asked about which issues they thought were the most important today. They answered the same issues that had been discussed in the local media during the same period.

Maybe this is why we are getting short and sweet updates from tv screens everywhere nowadays. Elevators, buses and even at gas stations. Get the 5 headlines while filling your car up. Great. Ready to go home and read about trains...  

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