[tweetmeme source=”ChazGunningham” only_single=false] In 1977, at the height of disco, Randy Newman shot to #2 in the US with his politically incorrect ditty, Short People. “Short People got … no reason … Short people got no reason … To live” he sang. Was it an ironic dig at ignorance and prejudice? No, said Newman, when interviewed later (he said yes at the time), it just felt amusing to him. Nothing against short people, it just made him laugh.
Around this time, Sony were struggling with a potential new product. Research showed it would be an absolute dog, that no one wanted a stereo with thin headphones and no rewind button. People wanted larger, louder and bolder quadrophonic stereos in pine cladding, said the marketing folks. No, said the Sony head. People are bored, when they see this product, they will “get it”. People are bored in trains, bored walking around town, and bored pretty much all of the time. The Walkman will fill this void. How right he was. From that moment on, up to the Millenium, Sony held 70% market share of the personal music market.
Wind on 35 years and it’s the same. Parents at the touch line or at McDonald’s, don’t have their phones far away, in fact, in any odd moment, flash them out of their pockets and spend time peering into them when they could (and should) be spending quality time with their children. Put them away, I feel like screaming. A few weeks ago, I saw a whole table of 20 somethings at a restaurant ignoring each other and all (all) clicking away at their smartphones. Where’s the art of conversation? It’s gone online, maybe.
It seems people are still bored, and have short attention spans. Maybe we are wired this way. 2020 cricket is already impacting on the 5 day Test version (and killing the already struggling 4-day and 50 over versions). Maybe it’s not boredom, maybe it’s just because it is there, so handy, so entertaining, so within reach. Maybe we need a little more self control. Leave the smartphone in the pocket. Perhaps in the same way we ration out children’s “screen time”, we should do likewise? Maybe Randy Newman was right, we really are short people after all.