It’s always refreshing to see the insight that Marshall McLuhan expressed in the 1960s receive complete validation in the remarks of those who understand media in 2020.
In his ‘year in review’ real estate post, highly respected and hugely followed industry pundit Rob Hahn hits upon a central McLuhan claim, that electric technology was going ‘re-tribalize’ humanity.
McLuhan made this discovery in the early 1960s (possibly earlier) when observing the effects television was having upon the society that grew up around it.
McLuhan made the connection when he realized that that the electric media would eventually draw people away from the book. The book, and the print-based society that it enabled, was to McLuhan the force that ended “tribal” times and fostered an era of literacy, and linear organizational structures.
The book de-tribalized humanity. The solitary nature of reading had immense effects across all levels of society. It effectively ended the oral cultures of the feudal/tribal age.
Somehow, genius that he was, when McLuhan saw the television arrive, he saw that this electric, instant possibility would begin to re-tribalize all the societies who partook of it.
The more electric, instant, constant the media became the more advanced the re-tribalization would become.
Smartphones, social media have enabled the instant constant environment of the Global Village.
When someone who studies the media as closely as Rob Hahn points out that tribalism – exactly as McLuhan predicted – has returned to society, it is just such fine testimony to McLuhan’s genius of foresight.
Hahn, like McLuhan, sees a direct link between the retribalized nature of our society, and the way one should connect to this society via the media.
Here’s what he says:
“I have this theory that real estate agents should recognize that we are now living in an age of tribalism with so much division, so much disagreement, and so much… well… tribalism. And while agents all should transcend all of that personally and professionally and provide excellent service to everybody, marketing is a different story.”
As Hahn points out, understanding the environment that media has created is essential to being able to successfully market properties. Not just properties. Anything.
Even if you are running for president. Arguably Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 because he understood more than any candidate in the history of politics that he was living in tribal times.
Consider the advice Hahn once gave to a realtor. It’s not too far removed from Trump’s marketing strategy for the ballot box.
“I distinctly remember encouraging a friend of mine, a REALTOR in Houston who was my REALTOR for years, that he should consider creating a real estate website for gun enthusiasts. He didn’t, but the principle is the same as what we’re seeing from Reynolds here. “
McLuhan realized that electric communications technology was doing to literate societies the very thing that print had undone in pre-literate ones.
Print had lifted humanity out of feudalism and tribalism, the electric media was reversing this, and, with subtle differences, retribalizing societies who depended upon it as the dominant means of communication.
Hahn, who has close to 10,000 followers on Twitter, makes his remarks about tribalism in reference to Seattle real estate maverick Sean Reynolds, who Hahn lists as being among the seven “most interesting” people in real estate.
According to Hahn
” The fascinating thing is that Sean Reynolds has over 28,000 subscribers for this Seattle Real Estate Podcast. Some of his videos get hundreds of thousands of views. I don’t have any statistics, and I doubt anyone has really studied this, but I think Sean might be operating one of the largest “real estate” related YouTube channels in the country.”
This either in spite or because of the fact that Reynold’s podcast is explicity political. And in the US, of course, nothing is more tribal than the political.