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March 12, 2020

The Popcorn Political Report (Revisited)


Applicable Trends

April 1, 2019      |      5 Min Read

Faith Popcorn saw it coming at the end of 2015...

The Original Futurist with a 95% accuracy rate for predicting cultural Trends, forecasted the societal shifts that would leave to Donald Trump’s surprising 2016 election win.

Below is The Popcorn Political Report, created by the Trend Strategists at Faith Popcorn BrainReserve to help people better understand how we overlooked many of the realities about our society in the coverage leading up to the election. It also reveals how those Trends continued to play out post-election.

Check out The Popcorn Political Report in infographic form below, and read on for an updated look at where our nation is headed politically and the emerging indicators of more cultural change.

A year of hyper-connectivity and 24/7 global awareness

By the close of 2015, Faith had spotted a number of emerging Trends that indicated 2016 would be an incredibly divisive and reactionary year, characterized by a climate of insularity, anxiety, and polarization. These five Trends, connected by fear and unease, ultimately led to the most vitriolic election in history:

#1. The Arrival of Un-News: As social media replaced traditional media and gave rise to the fake news phenomenon, consumers reading filtered feeds were blind-sided by Trump’s win.

UPDATE: The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how an unscrupulous company could exploit a loophole in Facebook policy to potentially spread fake news to millions of people. Since the election, we have also seen the emergence of Deepfakes, in which videos of people can be altered using artificial neural networks to create images that seem to be of recognizable public figures, saying things they never actually uttered. In other words, people can no longer trust their eyes and ears. At a more simplistic level, we have witnessed media manipulation to, say, make it seem as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi were slurring her words.

#2. The Rise of Clanning: People surrounded themselves with those with similar beliefs and proudly labeled themselves Feel the Bern-ers and Alt Righters alike. As Trump made controversial remarks, this Trend intensified into Micro-Clanning, squads of friends separating themselves from those with divergent viewpoints. The rift deepened.

  • 7% of voters either lost or ended a friendship because of the Presidential race – Monmouth University

#3. Digital Cocooning: We retreated into carefully curated online echo chambers that reinforced our beliefs and buffered us from anxiety. Facebook told us which of our friends supported Trump and we applauded or unfriended them. The Filter Bubble was no surprise to Faith.

  • In 2011, Google used 57 signals to tailor its search results for users; today, it’s over 200 – NY Magazine

#4. FutureTense: Consumers, anxiety-ridden by simultaneous social, economic, political and ethical chaos, find themselves beyond their ability to cope with today or imagine tomorrow. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan resonated, and their anxiety drove them to vote Trump.

  • More than half of students visiting campus health clinics cite anxiety as a health concern – NY Times

UPDATE: By 2018, the APA reported that the number of people pinning their stress on politics had risen to 69% from 56% two years earlier. A frightening 4% admitted to having suicidal thoughts driven by the political situation.

#5. Vigilante Consumer: Consumers manipulated the marketplace through pressure, protest and politics. Middle America’s middle class has been shifting from simmer to boil for years now – they are mad as hell and “Lock Her Up” and “Crooked Hillary” became rallying cries.

  • 2000 veterans joined the months-long pipeline protests at Standing Rock and re-routed the pipeline – NPR
  • World’s first virtual Hologram Protest in Spain in 2015 – CNN

New administration, new national mood? How will these forces play out?
Here’s what awaits us in 2017:

#1. The Rise of Un-News triggers a counter-Trend, UnSpun: Distrust of media rides higher than ever as we seek the truth, and consumers clamor for stripped-down facts to form their own conclusions.

  • America’s trust in mass media at an all-time low and falling – Gallup

#2. Clanning morphs into IRL Clanning: Wary of being phished, catfished, or otherwise hoodwinked online, friends meet to connect and share in person. Intimacy fights our digital isolation.

#3. Digital Cocooning shifts to Deep Cocooning: We hunker and bunker down to feel safe, armed and protected in homes where cybersecurity, water and air are monitored and neighbors background-checked, literal echo-chambers. Unable to cope, we dig down into our curated communities.

  • 3.7M preppers stoking a multi-billion $ category – Yahoo Finance
  • Dark Days – people going off the social-media grid. Even the Kardashians are halting their presence
  • The Rising tide of “CalExit” calls for secession – CNN
  • Women huddle to protect their rights – Pantsuit Nation, the March on Washington

UPDATE: Survivalist bunkers see a boom in business as people pay (a lot) for underground lairs as they prepare for Doomsday.

UPDATE: Harvey Weinstein’s trial, well covered by the media, has sparked the usage of the #metoo hashtag again, as women demand justice from men who abuse and oppress them.

#4. FutureTense transforms to EMOnomics: Emotion is the new currency – joyous, miserable, irate, awestruck, we just want to feel. As stress accelerates and divisiveness reigns, we want recognition.

  • Anger rooms – places where we pay to smash things and vent negative emotions – NY Times
  • Real Housewives, Orange Is The New Black and West World celebrate shocking sex and gore – Variety
  • Heavy and binge drinking rise sharply – Science Daily
  • Captain America: Civil War – top-grossing movie of the year about division among superheroes – IMDB
  • Kanye’s break with reality reveals the fine line between outspokenness and illness – Cosmopolitan

#5. Vigilante Consumerism continues but a new facet emerges: Hyper-angry shoppers find solace in Small-ing. Big is no longer trustworthy – local, handmade, crafted and nostalgic rise. One part Millennial Maker Culture, one part Reactionarism – a harkening back to the “good old days.”

UPDATE: Blackrock commits itself to sustainable investments; Starbucks outlines new environment-friendly measures for 2030.

Curious about what’s to come? (Who isn’t?)

Much can be gleaned from these examples but you might be surprised to learn there are ways you can prepare your company or brand for the uncertain road ahead.

Find Out How

Article Updated from Original December 2015 Post

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