How to sort trends from mere trifles

December 9th, 2019
Article by
Sheldon Lotter

What’s a passing fad? What trends will endure? And what part of the cultural soup that we’re forever hurtling through, is a trend that will endure.

To sort fact from fiction, let’s turn to master educator Dave Duarte for a little sound advice. Former Programme Director at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School. As the founder of Treeshake, Dave works around the world building movements towards the UN Global Goals, including a 2019 “Campaign of the Year” finalist.

Tech-savvy, creative, and results-oriented, The World Economic Forum lists him as a Young Global Leader and has invited him to address world leaders in Davos on the topics of brand building, storytelling, and countering fake news.

Dave says that to understand trends you need to understand how to separate them from fads and truths. Let’s quote Dave here:

“Trifles are fashionable at a particular time but aren’t likely to represent a major societal shift by themselves. In the product world, this could be something like skinny jeans – it might seem like a great idea right now, but in time that feeling will pass. The technical world is filled with trifles – thousands of websites and applications that are launched every month, each one promising to be the next big thing. Trifles are here today gone tomorrow. Even giant companies like Facebook and Twitter could be seen as Trifles, because there are no guarantees that they’ll be around in a couple of years – we’ve certainly seen many other large companies come and go in recent years.

Trends are more sustainable shifts in commerce and culture than any particular company or product can represent. Whereas may be a Trifle, Social Media and people’s capability and desire to share their perspectives online is a Trend. The trend is large, millions of people and thousands of companies are behind it, and it’s likely to shape the way we all do things over the coming years.

Truths underpin and enable any trend. The closer a Trifle or Trend is aligned with a human Truth, the more likely it is to be sustainable. The human truth of Social Media is that people are fundamentally social. People’s need to connect with each other is almost as high up as the survival instinct. Combine this powerful natural driver with web-based tools to enable social connection with mobile devices that connect seamlessly to the web, and you have the makings of a major behavioural shift. People are responding compulsively to the opportunity to do social grooming whenever and wherever.”

Know the difference between trends, truths and fads, and this will help you lean into that which endures and which truly impacts culture.

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