Does anyone remember the ’70’s? You know, BEFORE the Internet? That’s the era when handshakes solidified business deals, anything you wanted to learn about could be researched in either the Merriam-Webster Dictionary or World Book Encyclopedia (with annual supplement, of course!), and the soda jerk at the corner drug store would mix a Green River and serve it in a large styrofoam cup with ice for a quarter. Oh, to be a kid again!
Back then, there were THREE channels on television. People only received what was enabled by the station’s antenna reach. Back then, most people’s cultural awareness was determined by a phone book and a road atlas. If you couldn’t find what you needed in the phone book, you sure weren’t driving around in a strange place 100 miles away to look for it. You just did without. Back then, your closest neighbors were also your closest friends as well as the main influencers in your life (besides family). People didn’t care about what everyone else thought when “everyone else” was outside their circle of influence.
If you take a couple of steps back and look into the future, you’ll see a trend approaching. Leading indicators are already appearing, the most significant being increasing noise in the marketplace. People are overwhelmed by it and are retreating into little circles of influence. Individuals inside these circles share compatible worldviews, so what others on the outside think is essentially irrelevant. As the groups form, their scope of inputs narrows. Instead of randomly scanning 2000 channels for insights supporting their worldview, they are identifying identify 3, 6, or 10 and then actively engaging with them. Their attention becomes so focused, in fact, that ALL outside messages vying for the attention of the group become background noise…like a hissing sound.
Come to think of it, that hissing reminds me of the sound the fountain made when the soda jerk pulled the handle to mix my Green River. Those were the days.