Quite some time ago, I served a volunteer mission for my Church. It was, by far, one the best experiences for my life! I learned so much! I served many people and it changed me! It may the biggest time in my life for focusing almost entirely on someone else or a bigger cause than myself. I will be forever grateful for my experiences as a missionary.
I have been thinking lately about one of the companions I lived with. Actually, I was able to see him recently when my family vacationed near his home town. It was a great reunion and brought so many memories back to me. What a great experience to see each other again after so many years! What we did back then mattered. How wonderful to recollect that! Well, one memory came back right away. He used to make comments on other people’s driving. When we were heading to appointments or other commitments, he would comment when other people did something dumb, cut someone off, and the like. It was funny and I heard it a lot. He said things like, “Nice going, Slick!” I smile as I think about hearing a phrase like this over and over again.
The most interesting thing is that I remember this so clearly. Even more amazing is that often in traffic, I find myself saying the same phrase. The things I heard him say over two decades ago still come to my mind as I head out in my car. How is it possible that something like that can stick with me? That was so long ago and it was such a small and simple thing. Yet, here I am driving home from work today, getting cut off by someone, and catching myself saying “Nice Going Slick!”
So, it is a major debate that has been raging on and on for a long time. Does who we hang around with each day really influence the choices we make or how we act? Does what we see, hear, or watch really impact us or change us? Some have also asked if the media we consume impacts us at all. These are powerful questions. We wonder if media and friend choices really do impact us and change us. There is much of scientific writ about all of this. Many have tried to study to determine if and how we are affected by media. There are researchers trying to determine if violence and sexuality depicted in the media really influence us or our choices. There are creative researchers trying to figure this out.
I am going to let the researchers continue to do their work. That is their road to drive down. I am a big fan of researchers and what they learn and discover. I have been so impacted professionally by the good work of the likes of Brene Brown and John Gottman (I am trained and certified in both of these approaches and works). However, I just want us to think about this for a moment.
First, all of us are consumers of media. Many of us are heavy consumers of media. We have more channels than we can ever watch in our cable boxes. And if we do miss something, we have DVR’s and other means to record them and watch them later. We have Netflix boasting almost 15, 000 movies alone. Estimates put all titles on Netflix at well over 100, 000 options. Hulu has almost 45,000 TV episodes. This is incredible and these are only two of the largest providers.
It would take over 60,000 continuous hours of watching to see all that is on You Tube. We can link to thousands of videos through Face Book. We can access anything we want to at any time of day. We also have GIF’s and Memes. We also have podcasts, Vloggers, and more. There is a ton of media out there.
Are we really naive enough to believe that it has no effect on our behavior? How many popular sayings or slogans come from the movies and shows we watch? I am betting most of us hear some phrase or word pattern that first originated in a movie script or show every day.
Second, we are all subject to advertisers and marketers who are trying to influence our opinion. The marketing firm Yankelovich estimates that the average person sees 5,000 ads per day. That’s 5K people! Each day we are pulled in one direction or another by someone trying to influence our choices and earn our spending. Surely all of us have bought at least one thing because of an ad we saw or heard.
Each year, we clamor to watch the commercials for the Super Bowl. The ads are creative, eye catching, funny, seductive, and memorable. Some of them are so good we watch them over and over again. We talk about them the next week. We go back and watch You Tube collections of the best of Super Bowl ads. A Super Bowl ad in 2018 cost the advertiser 5 million dollars for 30 seconds. Did you just read that right? Marketers paid 5 million dollars for a 30 second spot!! That is about the time it took me to look that statistic up on Google and type it here. I would love it if someone paid me 5 million dollars for that 30 seconds of work!
What do marketers know about you and I? Ponder on this: If a company is willing to spend 5 mil for 30 seconds of air time to get my attention, then my attention must be able to be influenced. Would they do it if they did not know it worked? The wonderful Pixar Movie “Inside Out” really made us all laugh when they played back the memory of commercials heard in our childhood. We all can remember them. They never leave us. You know it to be true!
Finally, who we surround ourselves really affects us as well. Do you know where the word “selfie” came from? This is a word we all use! We all take them! We have selfie sticks. Selfie was the new word of the year in 2013. It still persists today. This generation may well be known as the selfie generation one day.
The word selfie is believed to have come from a drunk 21 year old Australian man who took a picture of himself in that inebriated state. He called it a selfie! Somehow that term took off and it has become part of the way we talk and think. Even young children know the word selfie. Some know this word and what it means before they can even say the alphabet! Even my elderly parents know how to take a selfie.
What an impact one little thing can have on us! There is great power and influence in what we see, hear, read, and participate in. There is incredible power in the people we surround ourselves with. As we surround ourselves with so much media and other influences, we must look at how they affect our way of thinking and living.
If you don’t think your friends and your media choices influence you, I would encourage you to think again. If you choose to continue to believe you cannot be influenced, then I say, “Nice going Slick!”