Meh-pedemic

 

We’re at an interesting stage of culture in America right now. America’s warning light is flashing -- we’re moving toward ‘extremes’ in our society. Our daily tasks themselves have become more extreme; everything we do from sports, flavors, makeovers, eating, dating, couponing, and extreme ironing even exists now. Activism, another form of today’s ‘extreme’ (protests, in particular) is something we’re seeing an increase of in our culture as well.

As we become extreme, sped-up version of ourselves, it could cost us passion. We seem to be active as a society, but are we passionate in all that activity? 

According to Sarah DaVanzo, teachers and market researchers say kids and consumers have been deemed "incurious dispassionate" and “they don’t care about anything." There’s high activity in our society, but conversely curiosity and passion has fallen, and individuals have become incuriously dispassionate.

Potential Hypotheses? 

  • Work stress? 
  • Opioid epidemic? (causing narrowing of field of emotional spectrum) 
  • Too many choices? (confusion by paradox of choice) 
  • Technology? (causing dulling and numbing of senses) 
  • Education? (considered unrewarding to passions)

Sarah dug deeper and studied nationwide data conducted by Heartbeat A.I.--which measured 1,200 American respondents who were asked: "What are you passionately curious about?" Answers gave insight to the emotional intentions of respondents as to what spurs their passions.
36% of Americans say they're "devoid of passion." She studied language data, as language often represents what we think about and what we care about. The data shows, in the last 200 years we’ve seen a decline in use of words like "passionate,” “curious,” and “curiosity." She coined this epidemic the "MEHPIDEMIC."  (The word ‘meh’ has been a part of American vernacular since the 1990’s. It officially became an Oxford word in 2015, along with the invention of the ‘shrug’ emoji.)

Sarah has an interesting solution. The key to overcoming dispassion in this era is to “weaponize” passion. Things like curiosity, passion, and even addiction operates similarly as they all activate the dopamine chemical in our brains. She says passion stirs our gut, curiosity stirs our head, and together they work in synergy!

You find your inner passion by aligning yourself in one or more four quadrants: 

  1. “Thinkers” (People who ponder on the future)
  2. “Pokers” (People who are experimenters, mixers, and tinkerers)
  3. “Lookers” (People who are more observational ponderers)
  4. “Lickers” (People who experience with their senses - tasting, touching, seeing, smelling)

On average, we tend to lean toward one quadrant, but some are "Quadracurious" (meaning one has characteristics that fall into multiple categories). Famous ‘quadracurious’ individuals you might know: David Bowie, Leo Da Vinci, Einstein.

These quadrants also made me think about how ad campaigns can be effective/motivating by shaping the campaign components to the qualities of the quadrants--as a result, these campaigns reach target audiences and stir individuals in a way that connects them to a campaign’s qualities.

Consider Thinkers - SpaceX ran a great campaign in 2018 where they took a Tesla Roadster into space. Tesla/SpaceX thrives by creating the latest and greatest in technology, from cars to space equipment and reaches those who ponder on what the future looks like. Tesla seeks to create and shape that future.

Consider Pokers - IHOP ran an interesting campaign in 2018 where it experimented in changing its name to IHOb. This was an effort to introduce its new burger menu (the name change was short-lived considering they want to remain loyal to classic breakfast). This radical change helped bring in customers to a new burger menu. Sometimes brands with a long, reputable history in one category tinkers with the brand to introduce a fresh, unknown facet to its customer base.

Consider Lookers - Nike released its ‘Just Do It’ campaign in partnership with Colin Kaerpernick. Nike wants the country, the world even, to observe change. Kaepernick has become a divisive figure in the U.S. Many people have supported as well as criticized his decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. His inclusion in the 30th anniversary campaign for Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ motto has similarly split opinion. Nike wants audiences to observe, take a look at what’s happening around them, and decide what taking a stand means to you.

Consider Lickers - Billie, a women’s razor brand, released an awesome campaign in 2018 called ‘Project Body Hair.’ The campaign focused on redirecting the impossible standards of beauty for women displayed through advertising. The goal was to train the senses and expectations of the audience to understand that women must actually have hair in order to be able to shave hair.

It’s important to remain passionate as a public to find what things mean to us. We convey ourselves through our passionate activities, but we also receive important, incoming messages that can trigger passions inside of us.