Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I was hoping this exercise would be a yawn

That may sound funny. Why would I want the response to my Blog Your Way Around the World essay to be a yawn? Doesn’t that mean people find it boring?

No. (Yawn.)

As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, yawning is a highly contagious activity. Just the suggestion of yawning—reading the word, seeing someone yawn or even hearing the sound of a yawn—is enough to cause many people to yawn. (If you yawned while reading this, you’ve got your proof.)

That’s what I was hoping for in this experiment. My essay spreading like a yawn; voters like yawners catching the “infection” and passing it along until it reached that magic tipping point that turned it into a virtual epidemic.

But Gladwell’s book illustrates that the magic tipping point is an elusive thing. It’s dependent on the combination of a variety of factors—the people involved, the appeal of the thing itself and the context of the potential epidemic. The book is fascinating, and I highly recommend it.

You can read about successful social epidemics that reached that wonderful tipping point, examples from Paul Revere to urban crime to Sesame Street.

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

No comments:

Post a Comment