Lexus stepped in it on Twitter
Want attention? Be offensive. Or perhaps even easier, be offended. Pick a fight. It works better than anything else.
Remember when you were in high school and a fight broke out in the hallway? What did you do? Two things:
1- You ran as quickly as possible to watch (unless you were the one rule follower who found the nearest teacher and ruined it for the rest of us).
2- You gossiped about it for the rest of the day.
Drama, drama, drama
We love drama. We are drawn to it. We can’t stop talking about it. Want proof? Ask yourself how in the world more than eight people watch the Kardashians or Jersey Shore or whatever is stupid and yet popular right now.
This attraction isn’t new, but there is something distinctly different about how it draws our attention today – the amount of information available to consume. In 2008, people consumed three times as much information as people in 1968. And that was five years ago (or 25 years in internet time)! I don’t know about you, but the difference in my consumption rate from 2008 to today is like the difference between me having wine with dinner and going on a frat party beer bender.
What you must know when picking a fight:
The consequences matter to us as individuals and even more to those of us whose job it is to get people to pay attention to particular things- brands, people, ideas. Here’s what you need to know when you approach this:
The more information we consume, the harder it is to get and keep our attention. Enter the value of offense. Want to get people’s attention? Offend someone. Unfortunately, we have very little control over the random nature of what will actually offend the right person to gain the traction being sought. Plus- despite the mantra of ‘all attention is good attention’- sometimes that just isn’t true. The more direct route? Be offended- as Susan Cain so effectively did toward Lexus, causing this huge uproar in the first place.
This works today more than ever because we have become suckers of irrelevancy. This isn’t just my opinion. This is according to science (Stanford Professor, Clifford Nass to be precise). The more information we consume, the less time we have to process it, to think about it, to analyze it. The result? We end up talking about random crap that doesn’t matter, and ignoring stuff that really does.
The good news for you who want to pursue the ‘be offended’ route to getting the attention of the masses- it’s really easy to do in a world that only has 140 characters. Tell me if you are offended by the following paragraph:
Some people are prone to speak less, to be less likely to exhibit risky behavior, to be the center of attention. This is perfectly okay. However, what if you want to change that? You might want to step out of your comfort zone. You want to get noticed. One way to accomplish this is to buy a flashy car. That would get you noticed. That would make you stand out… of course, only when you want to, because it’s okay for you to be more reserved.
That took a lot of words, but I’m confident I found a way to speak about introverts making a choice to demonstrate extroverted behavior without offending anyone.
On Twitter, here’s how that could translate. “Introverted? That can be changed.”
Now, we are offended
The reality is that words are merely symbols used to communicate ideas. Words like ‘introvert’ have many layers of meaning. Lexus probably meant it as ‘someone who tends to be quiet, to not stand out.’ Susan Cain made it about 50 percent of the population’s core identity. Lexus has since responded, saying “Introverts, Extroverts, we LOVE you all!!!” but most will only remember the initial tweet, innocent or not.
Sidebar: Does anyone else find it completely hilarious that people are threatening to not buy the most well respected car on the market because of a tweet one person in the marketing department sent? Personally, my car buying choice is going to be based on the issues that actually matter – like whether the car has air conditioned seats.
Being offended by this statement is ridiculous, but it’s the world we live in. When you’ve got 140 characters, its easy to turn a phrase into something offensive. And it’s the easiest way to rise above the noise. So here’s to being offended.