Marketing guru Seth Godin really nailed it in his recent post about the growth of commercial media. And “growth” in this case means it’s spreading like a cancer. You should read the entire thing, and subscribe to Seth’s daily blog because he always offers some tasty food for thought.
But here (in italics) are a few excerpts I found particularly insightful:
They sow dissatisfaction—advertising increases our feeling of missing out, and purchasing offers a momentary respite from that dissatisfaction.
Much of that dissatisfaction is about more vs. enough, about moving up a commercial ladder that’s primarily defined by things that can be purchased. It’s possible to have far more than your grandparents did but still be deeply unhappy believing that you don’t have enough.
Hence a new iPhone release every year.
The media likes events and circuses and bowl games, because they have a beginning and an ending, and because they can be programmed and promoted. They invite us into the situation room, alarm us with breaking news and then effortlessly move onto the next crisis.
Hence the stories about shark attacks every summer, even though you have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime.
And now they’re being gamed at their own game, because the artificial scarcity that was created by the FCC has been replaced by a surplus and a race to the bottom, with no gatekeepers and with plenty of advertisers willing to pay for any shred of attention.
Intellectual pursuits don’t align with the options that media would rather have us care about.
A walk in the woods with a friend or your kids does the media-industrial complex no good at all. It’s sort of the opposite of pro wrestling.
Books are the lowest form of media (too slow, too long-lasting, no sponsors, low profit) while instant-on, always-on social networks are about as good as it gets. For the media.
If you’re not the customer, you’re the product.
Hence “click bait” headlines, fake news and trolling. In the 60’s Timothy Leary encouraged us to “turn on, tune in, drop out” but now it should be “turn off, tune out, drop back into the real world.”