The youth of our society regularly assault the rest of us with a regular stream of silly fads, most of which mercifully fade from view in short order (think Cronuts, #anything, the phrase ‘YOLO’, and hopefully soon, Bieber).
However, a select few cross over into the magical land of Trends, which have more longevity, presumably because they offer something of (more) lasting value.
Last week’s Sunday comics provided an unexpected validation of the latest fad-to-trend transition: the Selfie.
Of course you know that selfies are photos taken of one’s self, in some unique situation, typically for the purpose of sharing (usually via social media) to demonstrate how fabulous your life is. Recent selfies in the news have included our President, Ellen DeGeneres and Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. All have fabulous lives.
Last week, 3 comics (‘Doonesbury’, ‘Dustin’ and ‘The Lockhorns’) featured the Selfie.
Now, for this writer to extract deeper meaning from the comics is not news.
However, it is particularly instructive when you consider that the average age of the cartoonists (Garry Trudeau; Steve Kelley/Jeff Parker; Bunny Hoest/John Reiner) is 65!
As an activity that started with teens and spread via social media, one would hardly expect this totally narcissistic behavior to be recognized, let alone embraced by retirement-age journalists.
And yet, to quote Edna Mode: “…here we are”.
In the case of selfies, this is one technology and social media-driven fad that has gone mainstream. Who would have guessed?
So what, you say?
1) Demographics, technology and social change are shifting so rapidly that generalizing about which groups will be trend adopters isn’t necessarily a good idea.
A recently published Pew Study finds that while older consumers are indeed less likely to be online than younger consumers, still, 59% of consumers 65+ are going online, and 82% of those are online regularly.
Think about that the next time someone assumes that xyz technology or app is ‘only going to be popular among younger consumers’.
2) Don’t overlook the comics as a barometer of the national social conversation.
We have seen a little of what the future looks like. And apparently, it looks like ourselves at arm’s length.