Trends that will shape 2017

It is getting increasingly more difficult to outline trends for the next ten or twenty years, but thanks to the world’s growing interconnection it is now easier to determine what is in store for us in the short term. Here are ten trends which might shape 2017 as defined by the Havas communication agency, brought to you by Martin Pavlicek, Communication and Mass media faculty member.

1. Boiling points

People are more easily mobilised by something they don’t want rather than by things they do actually stand for. Brexit and Trump represent two culmination points of the last year’s concept. With new technologies changing markets, and bringing about the demise of the old order, new boiling points keep emerging.  Some of them are more easily identified (taxi drivers versus Uber), others less so (the hotel industry versus Airbnb). We can also expect more of the “enough already” moments in 2017.

2. Echo chambers

Idealists imagined social networks as a space for the cultivating and enrichment of ideas. Unfortunately, the opposite is true – also online, we tend to communicate more with people who share our ideas. Therefore, what we see is an echo-chamber trend. This means we rather solidify our opinions rather than cultivate and modify them. And sadly enough, these chambers more often than not echo different half-truths and fake news. People are not willing to fact-check, and thus echoes spread faster and faster. For more on echo chambers, click here.

3. True or false?

This is related to another trend – companies running social media are aware of the fact that, at least for now, they have lost to propaganda and half-truths. Mark Zuckerberg has learned his lesson and Facebook is currently preparing to launch algorithms that will recognize fake news and problematic texts in general. How it will work, what it will bring, and how the trend will spread to other social networks remains to be seen in 2017.

3. The Charm of (digital) research

The year 2016 showed us that people that can tip the scales and change the outcome of an important vote, or cause the launch of a product to fail, are often off digital radars. The year 2017 will be a year of the return to research also in the real off-line world. By the way, statistics show that there are 1.5 million people in the Czech Republic who have never surfed the Internet, and a full 2.5 million who go online only sporadically.

4. Dr. Jekyll technology

Technologies that once were the stuff of sci-fi fantasies are already here. Virtual reality, quantum computers and intelligent robots are poised to become much more common. And voices can be heard which are calling for more caution. What if there is an insidious Mr. Hyde lurking within this Dr. Jekyll of technology? In 2017 we expect to hear more cautious voices contradicting rapid advancements, particularly from people whose jobs may be suddenly and irreversibly replaced by computers and machines.

5. Still scared by mobiles?

Mobile phones’ impact on human health, particularly on brain health, has been under scrutiny for many years. And more areas are expected to emerge – and it’s not only about the funny Pokémon GO injuries. There will be more talk about texting while driving, about the so-called texting thumb syndrome (really!), and cellphone neck and eyestrain. Some may already be putting together an equation: two billion cellphone users = how many millions of paying patients?

6. Searching for privacy

How long have we been debating privacy and transparency? 2016 finally transformed Edward Snowden from traitor to hero. And many have taken his serious warnings to heart. We now know that everything from chatting to our banking data can end up in the hands of hackers. The importance of privacy, security and protection of personal data will grow in 2017.

7. Sugar tax

Remember the butter-to-margarine-and-back-to-butter-again journey? It’s not going to be the same with sugar. We tried to substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners but they turned out to be even more problematic then the real thing. In 2017, as governments want to reduce costs of treatment of obesity and related disorders, they will focus on the reduction of sugar consumption among the population.

8. Pleased to meatless

Since 2009, the number of vegetarians in the USA has increased from 1 percent to 5 percent. We expect that the trend will affect Czechs, who truly love their meat, sometime later on. However, we predict that from 2017 on, people will be more worried about how the huge numbers of livestock raised will affect our planet. As laboratory tests successfully continue, menu options may include artificially grown “non-animal” meat for the first time in 2017.

9. E-commerce or app-based shopping

Mobile users’ virtually umbilical connection to their devices is so strong that they will want to use them not only for digital purchases, but also for in-store shopping. We expect that retailers will increasingly be using iBeacon-based apps to deliver promotions, offers and detailed information about their goods. In China, Mexico and the USA, app-based shopping has already overtaken searching for goods and promotions in browsers. To learn more about the first iBeacon installed in the Czech Republic, click here.

10. The Hipster is dead, long live the Yuccie!

The last trend for 2017 is the expected gradual decline of the hipster subculture. According to blogger David Infante, the group, which disapproves of contemporary popular culture, is slowly retreating and is being replaced by so-called yuccies – Young Urban Creatives. They are similar to hipsters in that they value their autonomy and independence, but unlike them, they do not renounce material goods. Are you still a hipster, or are you already a yuccie? Test yourself here.

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