“Weak signals” is a concept most futurists are familiar with. They are seemingly incidental ideas or developments that, taken in isolation, do not hint at meaningful change. However, put enough of them together and you realize you may be on to something. I think I’m on to something.
Weak signal – A few weeks ago a friend told me that her teenage daughter came to her and said, “Mom, I think I’ve discovered something about myself. I can’t concentrate like I used to.” It turned out she was experiencing frustration while trying to absorb a lengthy magazine article.
Weak signal – About three years ago, I was waiting to get my hair cut. The only available magazine was the kid’s edition of People. Flipping through it I soon realized there were no “articles.” There were only snippets or “sound bites.” Oh, and lots and lots of pictures.
Weak signal – Have you noticed how fast many younger people speak? If so, you’re probably older than 30.
Weak signal – In 2008 one of the most successful products was noise-cancelling headphones.
Weak signal – Stevens College has a new campus program of “intentional silence,” designed to help today’s digital natives take a break from the constant noise of their wired lives.
Weak signal – Amherst College recently hosted a “Day of Mindfulness.” It was intended as a break from information technology.
Scheel’s prediction – There is developing a backlash to too much chatter in too little time. Thoughtful (or just burned out) people will increasingly recognize the necessity of contemplation, solitude and tranquility. Unplugging will become the new status symbol. The weak signals have created a trend. It is now time to watch for the countertrend.