As technology continues to change how we communicate, how we relate to each other, how we perceive right and wrong – it’s interesting to watch people adapt, or not. Grow, or not. Change, or not. I find myself harkening back to Shakespeare and Hamlet, “To be or not to be;” is that the question? Or, is it, to blog or not to blog? To Twitter or not to Twitter? To communicate or not to communicate?
Shakespeare’s tool was a pen, dipped in ink … pressed to printed paper. Today, he would be amazed at our ambient findability embedded in the tools we use; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – allowing us to talk to people worlds away. Is this trend, to reach out to perfect “strangers” an attempt to improve our lives or does it just make us more “chatty”? We speak of personalization today – new tools and changing trends focused on the individual, not the collective whole. But where does that lead us? To Facebook invitations causing perplexed looks on our faces: “Do I know you?”
The next generation of tools purport to personalize our connections, allowing us to “get to know each other” – but, everyone knows that on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. I know most of my Twitter followers about as well as I know the attendees at a conference where I’m speaking. They’re the tribe (ala Seth Godin) I am connected to and I want to know them all, but as Malcolm Gladwell noted in The Tipping Point, our attempts to “know” more than 150 people at a time can be an exercise in futility.
Wikipedia describes “trend” as: “… something that somehow becomes popular within mainstream society over a relatively long period of time (more than a few years). It is the direction of a sequence of events that has some momentum and durability.”
Does this definition apply to business trends? I submit that when “popularity” becomes a prime indicator of business success, we will all be sitting in coffee shops twittering away about the weather. Where is the change, where is the freshness – aren’t trends the tools of a new way of thinking? Popularity and moving with momentum are merely proof that today’s trends mimic yesterday’s trends, no matter how different they seem.
Being a part of something important is far better than being “trendy”. As Michael Port, change thinker extraordinaire, told me in a recent podcast on my blog, “You have to stand for something or someone will stand on you.” His Think Big Manifesto stands for just that – thinking big – creating a trend to stop small thinking. With momentum and growing popularity, it will change the business world as we know it. The trend here is that we have the means within us all to think big, accomplish big things, leave behind the outdated trends of yesterday.
Thinking big, tribes, creating fresh thinking for new trends to take momentum, in the end … it’s all about communication, isn’t it? The words may change, abbreviate, or morph into a form relevant to the individual’s needs, but the reason for speaking or writing is still the same: to effect change, inwardly or outwardly, for oneself and/or one’s communal group. “I don’t blog, Mom. I don’t Twitter,” only means they use other means to talk to each other. Because they do communicate. The trend to be human – to be connected – to build community, doesn’t change.
In business, as in life, it isn’t the tool; it’s the people. It isn’t the technology; it’s how people adapt to it and with it. It isn’t about blogging or twittering; it’s about talking person to person. It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting pen to paper, picking up the phone, or Twittering. What matters is: who are you talking with today?
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About the Author: Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, a book about getting those baby boomer icons Dick and Jane to buy at your website. Following publication of her book, she founded Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC. all about Books, Blogs and Beyond. Yvonne maintains a blog at LipSticking supporting her work in the women's market online. Yvonne is the VP of Web Communications at the Rochester Chapter of the American Marketing Association.