Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Bandwagons: Proceed with caution

Daryll Smith / Paisano Plus

Flappy Bird, Facebook, UGGs, frozen yogurt, The Walking Dead — what do all these things have in common? At some point they have all been a seemingly never-ending bandwagon.

Laura Oliver, a professor of public speaking and interpersonal communication at UTSA, clarifies what a bandwagons are and why we can’t seem to get enough of them.

“A bandwagon is a fallacy, which is an error in judgment,” Oliver says. “A lot of students will get up to speak and will say ‘because something is popular, then it’s right’ or ‘everybody does it therefore it must be good’…just because everybody does it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or right.”

Let’s face it, when people blow up your social media by “live-tweeting” award shows, updating Facebook about their latest app discovery or posting food from a trendy new restaurant on Instagram, it all makes us want to be “in the know” and influences us into joining these bandwagons.

“When we talk about bandwagons, I think it’s more prevalent today because of our technology,” Oliver says. “I think that the bandwagon is something you have to be conscious of because it doesn’t mean anything…a lot of people don’t think for themselves because of it.”

Do we truly care about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Prince William and Kate Middleton or what Miley Cyrus did in her new music video?

No, of course not, but when you see social media blowing up on these topics or trending hashtags about them, we feel the need to know about it so we don’t seem oblivious.

“I think it’s normal human nature to want to be liked,” Oliver explains. She gives the example of someone tweeting something purely based on quantity of favorites or re-tweets in order to gain popularity. “I don’t think that’s wrong per se, because we all just want to be liked,” she says. “When my husband says ‘so-and-so retweeted me,’ (I see) he’s proud of that.”

While you don’t want to be a bandwagon-hopper, living in the age of social media, heavy advertising and viral videos, it’s virtually impossible to not become entrapped by what is going on in the world at any given time.

This may be good in terms of breaking news and global communications; it also makes pop culture a current reoccurring feature in our daily lives. It’s so apparent that one may find it hard to resist becoming a part of the latest fad, effectively jumping on bandwagons left and right or even becoming obsessed with pop culture.

Bandwagons are definitely not a new tendency of our world, but they have become increasingly evident through the use of new technology.

“I think decades ago when we didn’t have all this technology there was more time,” Oliver explains. “By the time we heard about something, time had gone by and it had been verified or debunked. Now, with social media it’s instant and if something is exciting, it spreads like wildfire and might not even be real.”

As Oliver stated, we can find ourselves believing bandwagons under completely false pretenses, which puts our validity at stake. On the contrary, bandwagons like organic food and New Year’s resolutions are both bandwagons that promote positive ways of living.

“Sometimes, with our technology, we’re just aware of more things that maybe we wouldn’t have been before and they’re good,” Oliver says. “I think the caution is, especially with younger people, they do things not because it’s best for them, but because it is popular or all their friends are doing it.”

While we may think bandwagons only affect us socially, we don’t always realize the repercussions it has on other aspects of our lives. For example, major news outlets and broadcasters tend to cater towards their audience instead of being able to report on more important stories.

“The news stations, you would think their goal is to spread the news, but they’re a business,” Oliver explains. “Their goal is to make money. And if people want bandwagon topics, they’ll give it to them, which, in turn, snowballs the entire bandwagon effect.”

Bandwagons are never going to disappear. You can’t escape them – even in companies like CNN and Fox. If anything, bandwagons will intensify with time. On dealing with the influence of jumping on the bandwagon express train, Oliver does offer an insightful viewpoint: “It’s human nature, but at the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself.”

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