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10 Trends To Watch In 2017

  1. Citizen Journalism Eclipses the Mainstream Media: In a trend that continues from the campaign, we will see official sources of news decline in public interest as it is perceived that they spin a pre-fabricated narrative. At the same time, the perceived honesty of independent bloggers, researchers and other citizen journalists will lead the public to turn to social media first and potentially exclusively to find out what is going on. In 2017, the "MSM" will serve chiefly as fodder for the real conversation, which occurs in public and private social media forums. Expect social media to fall into relatively stratified ideological lines, with the Left talking mostly to itself and the Right doing the same, while the media wrings its hands over "fake news" and struggles to make the case for its legitimacy.
  2. The Decline of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube: A number of factors have combined to create distrust in what can now be called "traditional" social media. These include issues related to privacy and government surveillance as well as issues around perceived censorship and favoring of specific ideological views. In response, the public will turn to new, homemade, alternative forms of communication that are not perceived as servile to anonymous mega-interests.
  3. Increased Parental Involvement, Homeschooling and Alternative Education: Many forces will power a shift away from traditional education toward home-curated forms of schooling. For one thing, there is extensive coverage of the ideological wrangling taking place at the college and university level, with extremist professors and coverage of student demonstrations eclipsing discussions of research and scholarship. Additionally, there is a longstanding concern among parents that traditional schooling, even at the undergraduate level, tends to reward those who play to a rubric rather than individualistic students, whose contributions at the level of critical thinking and creativity are impossible to measure at the quantitative, herd level. Further, parents are increasingly aware that the economy requires their children to attain significant proficiency in science and technology subjects. All of these factors will combine to make parents readier to pool their efforts or work independently to ensure their children are well-prepared to face the future.
  4. The Growing Irrelevance of Washington, DC: The U.S. presidential election of 2016 highlighted the cultural dissonance between our national capital and the rest of the country. Despite the fact that Donald Trump won the Presidency, the seeds of distrust have been sown deeply, and we will start to see the elimination of "what's going on in Washington" from ordinary conversation.
  5. The Fight to Define "Alt-Right": With the election of Donald Trump, his amorphous collection of freethinking supporters will spend much time this year defining itself. One of the more noticeable issues that has cropped up is anti-Semitism. The movement known for its frank talk and anti-establishment nature will struggle with the concept of establishing boundaries around public discourse, as censorship is seen as the ultimate taboo. Other significant questions will concern the extent to which the movement questions Donald Trump's actions, or is tied to his sometimes inscrutable choices; "new masculinism" and a strong anti-feminist bent; diversity and inclusion versus a strong distaste for political correctness; attitudes toward Islam; and the implementation of meritocracy in light of widespread economic distress.
  6. A Tiny Home for Everyone: The trend toward affordable standalone homes will continue as people move further and further from urban centers to claim their own stake of property, however small. As families face difficult economic choices, expect more bodies crammed into smaller spaces, with correspondingly more multifunctional, utilitarian home items, clothing and more.
  7. If You Can Shoot It, You Can Eat It: Expect continued interest in unorthodox sources of protein and harvesting of any and every piece of a killed animal for food. These items will be presented to the public not as scraps of food for the desperate, but as delicacies, leading to the introduction of new products for the mass market of foods formerly considered "gross."
  8. Rise of the Security-Obsessed: The rise of terrorism worldwide has in turn heightened anxieties among the public about whether and when an attack may come. Correspondingly, expect a continued increase in gun purchases and associated training; martial arts training; and increased interest in all manner of electronic devices that promise passive, no-contact protection from without. These include home sensors, protective fabrics for bags and clothing, security devices for travelers, detectors for food tampering, and even bulletproof glass for automobiles and homes. Women will lead the way in searching for protective gear that is affordable and undetectable, allowing them to enjoy fuller participation in life with less concern for their personal safety.
  9. Communal Tables: Expect more and more emphasis on "breaking bread together" in casual eateries, where relatively rootless customers seeking a social connection will eat and drink with strangers who become temporary friends. This continues the trend toward a "trusting sharing economy," which was fuelled by the rise of services that depend on customer feedback for their growth - eBay, Uber, and Airbnb.
  10. Revisiting Russian Culture: It was perhaps inevitable that Donald Trump's "bromance" with Vladimir Putin would lead to a cultural fascination with mysterious "Mother Russia." The Cold War has been over for many years, but Americans never really warmed up to life on the "other side." As world events continue to put Russia in the spotlight, expect Americans to want to learn more about this remote land, and its culture, for themselves.

Copyright 2016 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own.

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