Turn Off, Tune Out and Drop Out

Timothy Leary coined the phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out” in the 1960’s. According to the Wiki entry, it was 1967 and may very well have been a marketing ploy. The Wiki entry is a little vague on that, but Leary was sort of a PT Barnum. He was good at getting people to pay attention to him and he figured out how to turn that into a business. Unlike Barnum, Leary was not offering tickets to a freak show. Leary and his camp followers were the freak show. He was all about being famous and that got him writing and speaking gigs.

Anyway, that phrase came to mind when reading this. Popular culture is for kids and pop technology is for kids too. There was a time when e-mail was for young people, but it eventually proliferated. Now e-mail is the domain of old people. Texting is for young people now, but that’s even starting to be replaced with things like Instagram. Facebook is the domain of grandparents and foreigners now. In other words, the platforms keep shifting, like all fads, but at some point the trend has to run out of road.

As the population of the West grows older, maybe the new trend will be something like the title of this post. The Boomers, who are not just hitting retirement in heavy numbers, will drop off the system entirely and enjoy their golden years in a fashion similar to their youth in old white America. It won’t be a fad, so much as a lack of interest. The whole point of social media is to collect data on people in order to sell them stuff and keep them from holding the wrong opinions. Old people are not the targets, so they will be ignored.

On the other hand, maybe the oldsters clogging up social media platforms and demanding rules that cater to them will set off a different fad. The young will get off social media entirely and instead go onto video platforms they can use on their phones. It’s not quite dropping out, but it is a return to a form of face to face interaction.  Fads are funny things, so it’s not unreasonable to think a back to basics fad could get going. Maybe dropping out will one day simply mean disconnecting from the grid like a normal person.