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January 4, 2010

Social Contagion: Works Both Ways

Category: Observations,Policy – Tom Harrison – 7:59 pm

People bought SUVs because their friends did. They got big houses. They lived large. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was famous. Malcolm Gladwell coined the term “Tipping Point” and we all used it. Ideas and trends caught on, and took root and thrived as social contagion.

Now, we have washed our hands. SUVs and big houses are out. The rich and famous are mostly in jail. A tipping point of an entirely different kind tipped.

We’re a little aimless these days, as a country. There was a groundswell of recognition that Obama’s course was right, and he got elected. Like a diet, we all got psyched to buckle down and get in shape. But we’re not very good at keeping our resolutions, are we (even if we know they’re right).

Can the same phenomenon — ideas that spread because it’s the “in” thing to do — apply to things like restraint? Could it possible be cool to have a small carbon footprint?

I hope so.

2 Comments

  1. I think you need to come up with a good book title.

    Comment by john — January 5, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  2. Sure it could, but then by definition it wouldn’t last. The “in” thing is constantly changing, flipping from one extreme to the other.

    What we need is to transcend the concept of “in”, which is ultimately just a need for external validation.

    Comment by Darren (Green Change) — August 4, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

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