Rise of the Consumer Society

Toronto may not want to talk about its “world-class” status so soon after being globally shamed by its own mayor, or having its long-outdated subway system turned into a political football and public spectacle during our municipal elections. Some of us might already be cringing at what fate might await our creaking infrastructure and congested roadways during the 2015 Pan-Am Games. But despite the worrisome trends, we still all know how much Toronto has going for it, because we’re among all the most media-literate, tech-savvy and inter-networked people on Earth. Of course, that’s a HUGE non-exclusive club that already has many other global urbanites as members, so what could actually make us special?

Toronto the Good

In our case, we might be feeling a bit outclassed by other great cities right now, and looking for ways to get back into the game with a few good lead-off hits, and maybe get people talking about the post-season again. Something to trigger discussions in our social channels, get the attention of local businesses and politicians, and even get ideas into the mainstream media so that they can spread further afield. So in our case, we could use our social-savvy and technology-culture to actually improve our society as a whole, if not our city itself.

The key to making a good name for ourselves might be to find genuinely inspiring ways of integrating more ‘social’ into our media, and more ‘culture’ into technology. The obvious question then, is what can make Toronto’s citizens stand out among the teeming crowds of faces out there in global social-media, while also defining our place among the clouds of commercial services within the more productive spaces on the Net as well?

If Torontonians don’t have a collective online identity today, then could now be be the time to start defining a Future for ourselves instead? Surely nobody needs to remind us that we already have all the resources required to build the future, right here on our doorsteps today.

So to that theoretical pursuit, here are just a few ways that Toronto could be developed as a unique personal brand for us all to share online.

A quick trip to the past reminds us that we are all living in the Consumer Age. Even if we can’t remember when that term was coined back in the mid-eighties, the fact remains that Consumers have taken a driving seat in where entire economies can go, even if they still don’t grasp the collective power of their discretionary spending. Keep in mind that when the “Credit Crisis” hit in 2008, our leaders practically begged us to keep spending and maintain the liquidity that kept the entire system moving – lest the music stop and everyone realize just how many of the chairs were made of worthless paper.  So let’s circle back to this enormous potential from a future perspective, in just a few moments.

Let’s imagine ourselves as Consumers of the Future… Where we see how our dollars become voting tools that can support local businesses with better ideas, and our shared views of brands become the sticks that we can use to make corporations bend to our will. Let’s also remember that this is possible right now, in the Present!

We can just sit back, and presume that clicking ‘Likes’ and sharing good ideas online, is all we need to do to move the ball downfield, but that’s just the mark of an idle, data-generating Consumer in today’s marketplace.

To achieve social progress most effectively, we’d have to collectively learn and share info on how the tools and technologies of the trade actually work. So that we can get a better seat at the table and negotiate a much more fair exchange for our secure info, personal interests, and private usage history.

The first steps to achieving social progress, and making a good name for local people, places and organizations, is to learn  how to safely navigate and securely collaborate online. From that solid vantage, we can better engage each other, and our service providers, to create the beneficial market demands that could drive key growth areas.

This begins by understanding how our personal lives and desires are being aggregated into data that’s used to shape the choices made by businesses. From there we can discover the marketing methods and channels and that will communicate these demands back to the innovative suppliers and providers that already exist right here in Toronto.

It’s almost an unconscious shared knowledge, that Citizens now have a choice to make in how commerce will serve us, and define our society.  We can continue to be passive consumers, that never got properly weaned from the manufactured desires of the mass-broadcasting era. Or we can take an active role in defining the markets and offerings that will shape our society, by using the market-intelligence and communications tools that commerce is already using to see and understand us like never before.  In this brave new world, there are some key and fundamental principals that need to be ensconced into our ‘constitution’ as citizens in a new Consumer Society.
(citations and sources are pending)

The requirements of Social Consumerism seem deceptively simple:

  • Privacy
  • Identity
  • Security
  • Usability

 Let’s consider what they offer,
and just how much of the future these basic blocks can build…




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