There are numerous stories like this one. Together, they develop a pattern of influence that becomes a trend. And then eventually, that trend may become consensus.
When you’re a parent, you resign yourself to the understanding that your children are often leading indicators of consumer revolutions. You’re a front row observer for the study of groupthink and you learn to accept that where they are is where society will be. One of the oldest books on this topic is by the “father of public relations”, Edward Bernays. He explains a concept relevant to this essay on the power of consumer epidemics. Consider this quote from 1928’s “Propaganda”:
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
We provide far too much credit to the popular few and not enough credit to the strength of consensus through mass adoption. We see Justin Bieber adopt a trend and suggest that the musician, himself, began the revolution. Rather, Bieber was a laggard like the rest of us. A great example of this phenomenon is the rise, fall, and rise (again) of Crocs.
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