*“Late-night hosts are like parents. Their job is to tuck us into bed at night, make us smile, sooth us. What I do is different. I’m not going to put you to sleep. I’m going to blast you awake. There’s a reason we drink coffee in the morning and not at night. I’m not warm milk. I’m caffeinated. I’m going to tell you everything is not all right. I’m not all right. You’re not all right. The world is not all right. What I do is too hot for television. I mean ‘hot’ in the way that Marshall McLuhan used the word.” – Howard Stern in Howard Stern Comes Again*
On Saturday night I drove past restaurants with outdoor seating and it was packed. Many people celebrated St. Patrick’s Day weekend, though maybe fewer than normal because parking was a bit easier to come by.
In addition to the medical confusion and bottlenecks with CoVid19 are the psychological dissonance and hindrances. Some people preach and participate for self-quarantine to slow the spread. Some cite flu statistics killing such-and-such multiple more people each year. Like any situation, when we ‘don’t get it’ we get to ‘ask why?’
One theory is that crises, like content mediums, run hot and cold. War went from warm to hot with the introduction of television in Vietnam. It’s probably gone cold again with drones. Sports commentary went from cold to hot in the transformation away from writers and toward talking heads. It’s probably cooled a bit with podcasts.
Like tree, bush, and grass growth in a forest, each change from cold to warm too hot and back again is endogenous to the systems. It’s not that talking-heads are good but that talking heads are good for TV.
Central Florida provides a nice contrast between the cool crisis of CoVid19 with the warm crisis of hurricane preparation. With the former it doesn’t feel like self quarantine is ‘doing anything’ whereas hurricans have a flury of preparation. We even have a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Hurricane damage everyone can see. Hurricane damage can be quoted in dollars.
None of these things are true for CoVid19.
What else runs hot and cold?
- Saving is cold, spending is hot.
- Policy is cold, politics is hot.
- Research is cold, takes are hot
A friend reached out for help writing a note to their clients about what was happening, why it mattered, and what they could do. In effect, they wanted to know how to communicate cool things cool, hot things hot, or move people from one to another. Most personal wealth should be cool. Most personal health should be warm.
This might all come back to McLuhan. People are relative thinkers, and after being blasted with a lot of hot (air) news we’re not sensitivite to change. It reminds of me my first pizza after my first Whole 30. It was sweet. I didn’t know pizza was sweet. I couldn’t know until I reset.
If framing matters, and it does, then CoVid19 needs better marketing. Like a brand it needs to go from cold to hot.