Do you remember when Jean-Luc Picard became Locutus, the Borg?
It happened on June 8, 1990, and it was a horrific moment.
During the finale of the third season of Star Trek, The Next Generation, our favorite zen Captain Picard had been kidnapped by the evil, soulless force known as the Borg and was assimilated into their hive mind. The last scene featured a horrified crew staring at the big screen television on the bridge as a Robo-Picard said (in a gravely, dead tone) “I am Locutus of Borg.”
Once someone becomes Borg, they are totally screwed. There is no turning back. We saw this happen over and over again in previous episodes. And now they had our beloved captain!
We had to wait months and months to find out how Picard escaped from his dire situation. The second half of the episode aired on September 24, 1990, almost three months later! It took forever! By then, a lot of emotion had worn down to a shine and we weren’t as troubled.
This is how we used to consume our media, one tiny bite at a time, interrupted with a flood of advertisements. If we like a show, we had to rush to the living room on the right day at the right time to catch it. If we had to work or were dilly dallying at the park with friends, we missed it, maybe forever, and had to beg someone to tell us what happened.
It was very frustrating.
But things are different now.
I swear this post didn’t start as another “this is how the internet changed it all” type of argument.
But, really, the internet has changed it all.
THE ART OF BINGING
Studies show that fewer and fewer people catch episodic television as it airs. Mostly, people binge.
Two months ago, I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ excellent podcast and heard a rather striking interview with Alan De Botton. I was impressed with this well-spoken man and decided to check out his book How Proust Can Change Your Life, which I enjoyed.
Over the summer, I have read or listened to every one of his seven books. I then stayed up until about four a.m. watching the charming animation on his Youtube channel, School of Life, which are funny, truthful and irreverent in ways I haven’t encountered elsewhere in such high concentration. In other words, I did a Botton Binge.
But I ran out of Botton.
I literally consumed everything he had put out there. and it was time to get episodic. Now, I check his Youtube every week and am eagerly awaiting his next book. I have become a fan.
I had been assimilated.
Think about it. We even do this with people we’ve just met. We binge on them, get a sense of their characters, their stories, their world views. A lot of time is spent on that person. After that, we become episodic fans, only catching up once in awhile when something is new.
We binge watch television series on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
We binge listen to podcasts.
We binge read blog posts and books.
We binge listen to music.
Now that I know I love Botton, I will check out his stuff in an episodic fashion. I will be the person who buys his next book, who watches the next video. In other words, I am Erika, of Botton. I am a fan.
THE STEPS OF BECOMING A FAN IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Step One: Binge (usually on free content)
Step Two: Become Trusted Fan (consuming content that costs money)
LESSONS LEARNED FROM BINGING BEHAVIOR
1. Content creators need to give it more time. People are STILL binging on Star Trek, The Next Generation and it has been 25 years!
2. It’s impossible to binge on one cookie. You need a lot of work before others can binge on you. Most people don’t become fans because of one work, one post, one thing. They become a fan because you have A LOT of stuff out there to be consumed and enjoyed.
3. In the beginning stages, few people are paying attention. There isn’t enough there yet.
4. It’s easier to binge on you if you have consistent content with a running theme.
5. The more connections you have, the more people can hear about you, the more people have the opportunity to binge.
6. People can only afford to binge on cheap or free content.
7. Binging stamps a pattern in the brain. This pattern allows the person to trust you.
8. Trust and money go hand in hand. If they trust that your stuff is good, they will hand over the cash so you can eat.
HOW DO WE USE THIS?
The price of entry is a little higher now than it used to be. Most of us will spend years putting stuff out there, with very little feedback or help. Knowing about the binging behavior of humans allows us to have faith that, at some point in the future, someone will spend a weekend curled up in their bed, wearing pajamas, listening/reading and enjoying what we’ve made.
Until that day, episode on!
Leave a Comment