The Art of Shunning

The other day I read about a radio station that made fun of the tsunami victims in Southern Asia….it was a cruel and ugly endeavor on the part of the radio station. It upset me, and made me angry. According to the news that evening, it had upset many other Americans also. Then I heard one reporter say, “Well, nobody should be listening to that kind of junk anyway,”…..and it got me thinking about that perspective….that if nobody listens, or purchases a product, then the power is taken away from the company that produces the item, or endeavor. Throughout history this has been understood as the “Art of Shunning.”

Every business needs financial support…and usually that support either comes from a business loan, and then from customers purchasing their products or expertise. Media, for instance, needs advertisers to support their business model. If a media company doesn’t have the viewership, they lose advertisers, which then affects how they can do business. If customers take the time to complain about something that disturbs them, to a business, the people running that company will usually listen, or they risk losing their advertisers…hence, they can lose their business. The fact that there is so much junk out there in the media means to me that enough people don’t complain. The general public doesn’t realize how much power they have, in the form of shunning. It is probably one of the most powerful tools a person has to control the type of society they will be living in. Remember what happened to Oprah Winfrey when she said on national television that she wouldn’t ever want to eat another hamburger? The meat industry went ballistic, and took her to court, where she ultimately won. She won because a person in America is entitled to have an opinion on what they like or dislike….even if they are in the spotlight. The beef industry understood how powerful shunning can be on a mass level…that is why they tried to make an example of Oprah Winfrey…to frighten others from voicing negative opinions. Can you imagine what happens if a large group of people turn off certain television shows? It happens, and those shows go off the air.

When people feel powerless, they can often turn to violence. Violence usually results in a temporary, but short-lived result. There are other ways to assert power, and this is where the Art of Shunning comes in. As long as people don’t take the time to turn off demeaning radio or television shows, for example, those businesses will continue to get their advertising dollars and keep gaining momentum. They will tell you that “this is what the people want to see and hear,” even though in reality it may be simply through default, meaning because people left their television or radio dial tuned to that particular station without realizing it, those advertising dollars assumed those people were actually interested in those shows.

People are not powerless….their opinions do matter, far more than they realize. These days as I leave certain establishments, they hand me a questionnaire to fill in on how I think they are doing, regarding the help of their staff, their quality of product, how they can improve….it is amazing to me that the average shopkeeper is taking the time to rate their business models through their customers. They know that keeping the customer happy will help their business. The only way the media is going to understand this same concept is through the pushing of a button….your finger on the most powerful tool you own….your television and/or radio button.

Support what you love,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2005 Jennifer Avalon

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