Here’s a clip of Seth Godin sharing an insight about the dark side of democratized mass media:
We are dramatically dumbing down mass culture.
– Seth Godin
We like to glorify the freedom and personal control that the internet has given us, but does that mean that the public majority will dumb itself down by choice?
Seth thinks so.
But there is hope.
There is another trend that could help counter-act it. This generation is more marketing-savvy than any other. And being shady has become less profitable. This means there are more and more normal, ethical people who know how to market content to the public, how to make otherwise drab topics fun, interesting, and compelling enough to watch instead of the latest dancing cat video.
Attention is important. If all the dumb people want to look at is mindless entertainment, then people with good ideas need to be great marketers about it, and draw them in, seduce them, lead them towards a new idea by first snagging them with something that fits their worldview.
All that attention, whether dumb or not, is worth something. Attention is being called the “new currency” for the new economy. It doesn’t need to be wasted on dancing cats.
A lot of companies know how to do this for their own products, like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge:
And many individuals and groups are making heavy topics easy to digest:
This doesn’t address the issue of people choosing not to listen to opposing views. It still might be possible, however, for smart marketers to turn around that trend, by starting out their content appealing to one type of person, before flipping it on them and showing them a point of view they hadn’t considered before.
A lot like Seth’s own book: All Marketers Are Liars.
##The Filter Bubble
Here’s a TEDtalk on how this phenomenon is made worse by “personalization” of many websites:
Individual marketers may not be able to help with that, but it’s a problem with an easy fix. On YouTube, for example, they could pop a “new ideas” button at the top. I think there’s demand from this. I’m not the only one who’s annoyed by how my YouTube feed pushes me towards stuff extremely similar to what I’ve seen before. Sometimes I open a video in an incognito tab just because I don’t want it to go on my “record” and have tens of videos with matching keywords pushed in front of me for months on end.
Until that problem is sorted out, we as content creators can do our bit (and fatten our wallets) by learning the marketing skills of empathy, and figure out how to package important ideas in a way that appeals to those who wouldn’t normally watch it.
Are you up for the challenge?