What else is invisible? To me, trends seem to be invisible. The recognition of a trend is at once dependent on noticing rhythm and/or frequency.
After a certain number (how many?) of young men grow beards, we label a trend. The very labeling of a “trend” is in fact a powerful tool for the creation of a trend. Offhand, I can think of many instances where giant corportions created a trend in order to sell stuff. Valentine’s Day starts Jan. 02, Easter starts Feb. 15 and so on.
And in Japan the tradition of eating “Christmas Cake” was a mere trend that has since penetrated so deeply into Japanese society that Christmas Cake is now a custom.
By the time we notice a trend it is too late: almost by definition, a “trend” is invisible until the moment when we apprehend it. This is fascinating. Take “trend” to mean a loose series of similar acts or tendencies, and see how few(!) sustain over decades or centuries. But then those that do propagate lose the status of trend and become encoded in culture. A Darwinian notion, certainly: only the strongest trends survive or (re)appear.
Because so many “quiet trends” take decades to silently carve their ways through the everyday, and no longer is the idea that billions of non-Christians celebrate their birthdays strange, or that devaluing your own sense of self-worth deemed a desirable quality among many millions. Or the conviction that all lies are “morally bad”.Facebook has the ability to easily share memes. The surfing cat, the singing dog, the dancing squirrel.
IN this age, we can consciously decide to share a meme or not, and so consciously participate in deciding which memes might have a chance of really surviving. The Ice Bucket Challenge was a pretty good one, while it lasted, making a huge difference to those with ALS.
So far, the most common trends I can detect FB spreading are “self-society criticism,” a great tool for improving society!; and, less happily: unquestioning, ignorant judgmentalism of others among self-proclaimed “open minded people”: which is very close to prejudice: to “pre-judge”. It is all too easy to vilify, victimize, “like,” revere or adore based on a short video and a blurb.
Unnoticed, invisible trends… I hope by the time it is too late to change our minds, we have encoded an open mindedness that is valuable precisely for its disinclination to adhere to any one judgement or opinion. Many philosophies for many situations. Quite an invisible trend, this!
My wish that this powerful tool can be used to well carve societies, shaping real-world trends and ultimately customs- expressing gratitude, smiling with your voice, having flexible philosophies and worldviews that encompass multiple truths – and above all, the idea Don’t Be Mean. How invisible is this? Don’t Be Mean.