Fired up Fringes vs silent majority

The Lefsetz letter struck an interesting chord the other day:

The key isn’t to appeal to everybody, but MOST people. And never forget that the fringes are the most vocal. If you pay attention to them, you’re screwed.


After a focus on niches and the longtail that has opened up in the last decade, he expressed a need for a more centralising focus, for people to belong to something and that people can share in common. A good example was U2 -which is one band that does a great job of rallying and unifying people…

But what I find interesting is that it’s so true that the fringes are often the most vocal, and seem to ‘hijack’ the expression of the vast majority -Look at the religious world for example and any religion for that matter -Islam, Christianity or even atheism. The media instinctively focuses on the sensational, which will be pushed by these fringe groups -an Al Qaeda website will attract huge interest while the Muslim majority’s opinions are largely ignored. Likewise, a few radical, rightwing so-called Christians give Christianity a bad name.

But it’s not just religion -whole nations can fall victim to the media game. Back in the day, when John Howard was PM of Australia, I was often both surprised and amused living in Asia how Pauline Hanson was a household name. It didn’t seem fair that someone who represented a minority within Australia could become so well-known internationally. And it’s led to the issue of Australia being perceived as an exceptionally ‘racist’ country. Sure, racism does exist, and it shouldn’t be excused, but is Australia any worse that other countries?

After the media tries so hard to get your attention with stories on radical fringe groups and their opinions, it’s difficult to remind yourself of the important message and values of the silent majority. The media’s often trying to just sell a story rather than make an accurate representation of the world.

I was surprised at how well the latest Sade album did in the charts -an artist and band who are generally unassuming can upstage the media-dominant divas like Lady Gaga. The mainstream public can still make good choices, and aren’t so easily manipulated by the media as we may think -so I believe that’s why Sade has done well. People will still be drawn to quality music, especially in an age saturated by gimmicks.


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