Affirmation versus information. Just tell me what I want to hear.
October 1, 2012
“She could teach us something new but what fun would that be?”
I was listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN, while driving my oldest daughter to school the other day. He was going on about how “we are a society that craves affirmation not information.” I forget the context of his rant but the statement stuck with me. I told my 8th grader she wasn’t going to learn anything at school that day as prescient as what the man on the radio just said.
Sad but true. Americans (maybe all people) crave affirmation for beliefs, politics, and faith. Just about anything. It takes precedent over actually learning or evolving. Birds of a feather flock together. A perfect example would be right leaning folks listening primarily to FOX News.
“Stay tuned for more of you want to hear…”
Wouldn’t the enlightened view have them listening to the Democrat’s preferred news outlets? That way they could learn something new. Find out what the other party is up to. But to Cowherd’s point, it really isn’t information people are seeking. It’s affirmation. Obviously, the left is just as culpable. Can you say MSNBC?
Modern marketing has slavishly followed suit. If back in the day an advertiser had to inform one about a “unique selling proposition” now it need only garner “likes,” “fans” and “followers.” In other words: affirmation. Brands come off as just wanting to hang out with us, support our passions, be a part of our conversations. Frankly, it might be getting out of hand. It certainly can be annoying. I don’t want to follow Crest toothpaste on Twitter. Nor do I want them following me.
Yet, information is dull. We know what we want to know already. In the words of Kurt Cobain: “Here we are now, entertain us!”
I hadn’t completely absorbed the concept of “affirmation versus information” until Cowherd spelled it out. In my opinion, it’s a more incisive and correct analysis of modern society than simply saying we are getting lazy or dumb.
Craving affirmation defines our popular culture. If people ‘like’ us enough we get popular. Brands have modified their approaches accordingly. We all have.