Archives for posts with tag: Internet

I have carried out another of my detailed, nay exhaustive, studies into the human condition and have come to another shattering conclusion.

We are an overweight nation. I’ve reached this conclusion after a sustained 2-hour session of people-watching in a provincial airport departure lounge.

I need to qualify this on two fronts. Firstly, I mean the male side of the nation. They were the study. Secondly, it’s not that we’re an overweight nation, it’s that we’re an overweight and under-toned nation. I saw enough men with slight or pronounced paunches that if you gave me a buck for every one of them I could have paid for my return flight.

The men with slight paunches were not overweight as such, it’s simply that the weight was not distributed correctly. We’re talking younger and middle aged men, younger than me, not older men for whom the slowing metabolism and decreasing activity exerts an inexorable toll on their midriffs.

What’s the cause? Modern lifestyle, unquestionably. Modern diets, modern mobility, modern commitments. And the Internet, which now accounts for the working day and a lot of our free time. We’re simply so much more sedentary than we used to me. We can send an email to Susan rather then walking a report over to her desk. Lifestyles have changed quickly and evolution will never be able to catch up.

It takes a lot of effort and time to put aside to stay in shape. If we’re not athletes by profession, we have limited time to devote to it and exercise is usually the first to go when it should really be the last. Look at any former athlete. How many look like they used to? How many are still in shape?

So it’s not just that we’re an overweight nation. We’re an overweight race.

 

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The trouble with social media is the trouble with the 2-way nature the Internet has developed into.

On the plus, it gives everyone a mouthpiece. It’s an amazing, equalising, liberating and democratising mechanism. We can all self-publish and let our thoughts be heard around the world.

On the minus side, it gives everyone a mouthpiece. Trolls, inadequates and other losers can spew forth their bile and vitriol from the relative safety of their device.

You see, traditionally, the rich, powerful and famous published, broadcasted and pontificated and we – the great unwashed on the receiving end of this 1-way traffic – absorbed and consumed it. They were the creme de la creme and there was in the main a relatively high standard and a degree of self-censorship involved. They understood the medium, and they controlled it.

Once you make the broadcast mechanism 2-way and universal, a lot of those conditions and controls go away. Suddenly the 99% of us get a chance, and we’ve far less to lose, and potentially a lot more to gain.

It’s not necessarily progress, or regress. It’s constant and accelerating change.

Tom Peters is the creator of what for me is one of the most insightful quotes in all of commercial history.

He wrote that ‘Perception is all there is.’ Is there anything truer and more important in marketing? It doesn’t matter what the reality is, what really matters is how people see and interpret that reality. The advent of the online world, which has increased our ability to transact remotely without face-to-face meetings where we can judge things like tone and body language, has brought this fact into sharper focus still.

Of course, companies with this knowledge can choose one of two paths. They can work hard to influence the prospect customer’s perception of their products and services in a positive and accurate way. Or, they can seek to alter their perception to one that is at variance with reality. In other words, they can mislead.

Fortunately, the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. Customers who find themselves on the unhappy end of a transaction can take to social media to vent their spleen and positively influence both the company and their target audience.

The Internet is all about perception, but it’s also all about immediacy and transparency.  Which is nice.