Sunday, March 6, 2011

Info Overload Leads to Triteness

While segmenting the masses may have been the beginning of the Networked Society, as people, business and the government understood the benefits of targeting similar groups of people as opposed to the masses, it may also have been the beginning of the end of the citizen consumer.

After WWII, the mass communication/consumption train had left the station, and business and government worked together to promote the idea that everyone should want a particular lifestyle (i.e. suburban, middle class living). The Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors, satirically depicted both the reality and fantasy of this lifestyle especially as it related to the urban poor. The song, "Somewhere That's Green," most effectively details that disconnect for the urban poor.

The reality that this ideal lifestyle is not attainable by everyone, nor is it desired by everyone, led businesses to segment the marketplace. A consumer group is upset about some business practice, then business responded by putting a fresh coat of paint over the problem by speaking directly to that segment without necessarily fixing the problem. As communication grew more and more fragmented, it became increasingly easier to reach particular segments, but it also became increasingly important to reach them with short, quick statements as the amount of attention time one had to reach the people was rapidly decreasing. As this Newsweek article discusses, the more information a person has available to them, the more that a person will rely on cognitive biases to make decisions. One of those biases being catchy repeated phrases that can break through the clutter. This has led to the personalization of politics and the avoidance of discussing actual issues in the present political environment. This Family Guy clip is a disturbingly accurate picture of what takes place in political debates.

My question or fear is this, in a segmented Networked Society, certain groups may get power to speak for everyone when in fact they only speak for a few (ex. Christian Parental Group forcing the FTC to create new decency regulations after the Janet Jackson nipple slip in the Superbowl). What does everyone think of this?

No comments:

Post a Comment