The Way Back Machine
To understand Social Media better, it’s important that our frame of reference start further back then the 1940s. It cannot start with the age of “mass media”, “mass production”, “mass consumption”, “mass marketing” etc.
Think back to what communication was like several hundred or even 1000 years ago. There was no such thing as radio, telephones, even telegraph. There was no instant communication, and there was certainly no mass communication. For the most part, there was individual communication, and to a very limited extent, through printing, a limited form of publishing for broad audiences.
But, if someone wanted to sell you something, they had to talk to you personally, face to face. They had to have a relationship with you in some form. Whether they were a merchant in a market or a snake-oil salesman passing through town, they had to have credibility with you. Do those itaicized words sound familiar?
And if they said something that was false or they mistreated you, you could tell them to their face. Or if you didn’t know them, someone you knew probably did, and they’d warn you if the seller was a fraud. In short, sellers were only as good as their words and their actions. That’s why snake-oil salesman would flee town as quickly as they could after a sale. Markets were all about conversations and relationships between the buyer and the seller. Good relationships meant repeat business.
Once new methods of communication arrived, the relationship between seller and buyer fundamentally changed.
With mass media it became possible to communicate to large numbers of people very easily. The term was “broadcasting”. A fitting description — cast a wide net over all the fish you wanted to reach. The personal relationship was lost and power in the relationship shifted to the seller. The seller could communicate their message far easier and far louder than the consumer could respond back.
If the seller abused their power in the relationship there was little the consumer could do. Companies set up customer response lines, but for most companies, these were merely lip service to the issue. Even as recently as this decade the problem existed.
To be continued….