Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for January 17th, 2019

Birdbrained Bird Boxers

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Back in the early-to-mid aughts, before we called everything “social media” (back when I had to walk five miles through the snow to get to the office), we often referred to something that came to be known as the “wisdom of the crowd.”

The New Yorker writer James Surowiecki wrote a book on the phenomenon, “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

The central thesis of the book was the idea that the aggregation of information in groups resulted in decisions are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. 

As an example, in his opening anecdote for the book, he relayed the surprise that a crowd had when their individual guesses of an ox’s weight were accurate when they were all averaged together.

It was a really cool idea, and it seemed to stick around for awhile.

And then, as if out of nowhere, the wisdom of the crowd seems to have gone the way of the do do bird.

Or, should I say, the way of the “Bird Box.”

Some background: Bird Box is a movie (spoiler alert!) recently released by Netflix starring Sandra Bullock in which the basic premise is that everybody must run around blindfolded lest they see the post-apocalyptic zombies running around which, if seen by the human eye, will turn them into zombies as well.

As Netflix movies go, it was pretty bad, but like an inverse of Surowiecki’s theorem, everybody had to see it because it got so much exposure via social media.  

Call it the “constipation” of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the viral meme of seeing the movie didn’t stop there.

No, lacking the wisdom of crowds from even 13 or 14 years ago, instead the “Bird Box Challenge” was born.

The challenge is simple: People inspired by the film are recreating the basic premise of the movie by going about their daily lives blindfolded.

It’s as silly as that, or even as silly as the Tide Pod challenge (another key piece of evidence of the constipation of the crowd) from last year, where people filmed themselves on YouTube eating Tide Pod laundry detergent pellets. Hey, whatever spins your cycle!

Only the Bird box Challenge has taken the constipation of the crowd to new heights, because, well, you’re blindfolded, which, you know, isn’t exactly conducive to things like driving a car or floating through rapids on a river.

It got so bad that Netflix had to issue a Tweet telling us how dangerous the Bird Box Challenge could be: “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE.”

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, we encouraged this kind of outlier behavior…It helps thin out the herd.

But we didn’t have a bunch of bird brains doing the Bird Box Challenge. 

We just called such phenomena “Darwin Awards.”

Go ahead, Google it.  

Just make sure you step away from the ledge.

Or not.

Written by turbotodd

January 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in 2018, social media

Tagged with , ,

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