Trendy Trends or Revolutionary Changes?

by Jay Deragon on 01/12/2011

At the end and beginning of every year everyone seems to propagate their summary of previous trends and future trends. The crowd follows the popular trends published by the popular media as if the commentary on trends were gospel. The reality is the human network follows trendy behavior so those who claim to have insights on “trends”, past and future”, create attention.  Commentary on trends are nothing more than a statement of obvious market dynamics that are creating new behaviors.

When the crowd buys into a predicted trend then it becomes a trend and those whom predicted it become prophets in their own mind.

The word trend implies:

  1. The general direction in which something tends to move.
  2. A general tendency or inclination.
  3. Current style; vogue:
  4. To extend, incline, or veer in a specified direction:
  5. To show a general tendency; tend:
Social technology has and will continue to become trendy. As the word “trend” implies all things social are taking a general direction, tendency, style and common direction by all those using the technology. Human behavior is predictable and the things that create trends are those things the attract the human network to engage, experiment, use and create new knowledge and experiences from something new. It is the new discoveries resulting from the collective experiences that create new knowledge which then becomes trendy.

Do Trends Lead to Revolutionary Changes?

Remember when cell phones first came out? They were the size of bricks and yet it was the trendy thing to have at the time. Today advancements in mobile technology are producing new models and innovative features every six month. Every new device with a new feature quickly becomes trendy. However in essence the device and all its features enable us to do similar things in unique ways—-communication, engage, connect and experience.  The impact of being able to communication, engage, connect and experience real-time has and continues to create revolutionary changes in human behavior. Some good and many very very bad.

The real trends are  constant revolutionary changes that are influencing human behavior….reading text while driving or engaged in sexual activity….reading emails while trying to listen to be discuss something….spending more time on Facebook than time watching TV…and you know other previous changes that were  never considered as possible or experienced by the human network.

We can see the trends while missing the revolution. Kind of like trying to drive an automobile while reading text on your IPhone….Crash!

Are We Witnessing Meaningful Revolutionary Change?

Trends don’t necessarily lead to revolutionary change. Trends are well just trends and last for the moment. Much of what the new and old media media seems to be consumed with is trends. After all our attention spans are moment by moment so old and new media tactics tend to feed our moments.

A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in power or societal structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Meaningful change, not trends, come from revolutions which impact the thoughts, feelings and actions of the human network for more than just a moment.

If you follow trends you’ll be distracted by the moment and miss the revolution.

{ 1 comment }

Becky Cortino January 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Great piece, Jay — which leads me to wonder out loud “how long does it take a trend to become a revolutionary change?” Enjoyed the cell phone allusion — great point!

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