HYPE AND HOOEY CLOG SUPERHIGHWAY

By Published on .

What's the matter, boobie? Are you afraid to get trampled by all the traffic on the information superhighway? Do you wake up at night feeling alone and a little lost because you're not hooked into the worldwide web?

Well, you've come to the right place. My message for you today is that the world isn't moving too fast and in reality it hasn't changed as much as the spinmeisters want you to think.

Consider the evidence. A new sex survey found that married couples were more faithful to their spouses than previous research had indicated. More than four in five Americans had only one sexual partner, or no partner, in the last year.

So contrary to the view the moral fabric of our society is unraveling to the point where we have turned into a nation bent on constantly satiating our hedonistic urges, we now see that we have been indulging our sexual appetites with circumspection and moderation.

Another survey confirms this orderly balance. As Bernice Kanner wrote in our Oct. 10 issue, an astonishing 80% of respondents to the first Life-scapes poll via America Online say they feel in control of their lives. And 91% of respondents feel their neighborhood is safe. "Judging by this Life-scapes poll, Americans are far more confident and comfortable than marketers would have us believe," Bernice writes.

There's an awful lot of media noise out there drumming up a crisis or urging us to jump on the bandwagon. The Wall Street Journal the other week ran a piece on the anatomy of a false crisis: "How a series of horrendous mass murders, overblown news reports, widely misinterpreted research and an emerging army of consultants have driven companies to a fear of their own workers that is largely unjustified."

The facts are, according to the Journal, 59 employees were killed by co-workers or former co-workers last year, out of a national work force of 120.8 million people, or one in 2.1 million. "The National Weather Service puts the odds of getting struck by lightning at one in 60,000," the newspaper reported.

When I'm told, as I was at the Association of National Advertisers meeting in San Diego last week, that "things will never be the same again," I simply don't believe it. Or that "Denial means death" if you don't immediately jump into the brave new media world of interactivity and cyberspace. To me such rhetoric is cyberspin, designed to build urgency and credibility for a new technology that to my way of thinking will never be more than a niche player for our time and attention.

The drums were beating long and hard for the info superhighway at ANA. But even Time Inc. CEO Don Logan said it's "a classic case of overhype and underdelivery." (When somebody asked him for an update on the 500-channel test that's been continually postponed, he deadpanned: "It's still scheduled to be in Orlando. Are you looking for something more specific?")

Most of the attendees I spoke with didn't have the impression that the train was getting ready to leave the station. And they seemed perfectly willing to catch it at the next stop.

In this article:
Most Popular