Why do crazes take off?

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Why do crazes take off?

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Why is it that some games, hobbies and activities become crazes while others don’t? Alice and Neil talk about their preferences

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح سخت

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Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript.

Alice Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Alice…

Neil And I’m Neil.

Alice Neil, what are you doing?

Neil I saw Squirtle … And … I’m trying to catch it!

Alice What are you talking about?

Neil Pok emon Go, Alice. I’m trying to catch a Pokemon.

Alice What?

Neil Alice! Keep up! Pok emon Go is a game where these little virtual monsters pop up onto your phone and you have to catch them. There it is again… Ha! Gotcha! I got Squirtle.

Alice Well done, Neil. Now the subject of today’s show is crazes…

Neil … and Pok emon Go is a good example. When it was first released, so many people were downloading the app that servers were crashing all over the place.

Alice Perhaps I should explain at this point that a craze or a fad is a sudden and widespread enthusiasm for something, which only lasts a short time. So why do you think this craze for Pok emon Go took off, Neil?

Neil It uses augmented reality - and that’s exciting new technology! It’s fun to play outside - and the game was released over the summer when people want to be outside. And … people are already familiar with the monsters since they were created back in 1995.

Alice Augmented reality by the way, is where digital information is layered on top of what you see through a smartphone or other device, ‘augmenting’ or adding to it.

Neil I love this game. But then again, I loved other games in the past. I still have some toys and gadgets from my childhood at home. If there was a fad I would join in, I’m afraid.

Alice Well, let me test your knowledge about toys that turned into fads. Tell me: what is the best-selling toy of all time? Is it: a) the space hopper? b) the Rubik’s cube also known as magic cube? Or c) the cabbage patch doll?

Neil I’ll say b) the Rubik’s cube. I have one and, so do my cousin, my neighbour… my brother… my dog…

Alice Well, we’ll find out if you got the answer right or not later on in the show. But why do we like to participate in crazes? Dr Ben Michaelis, a clinical psychologist from Columbia University in the US, explains.

INSERT Dr Ben Michaelis, clinical psychologist and visiting scholar at Columbia University, US When a person or a group perceives an idea or a process or a product as being beneficial to one person or to a group of people, they immediately want to experience that benefit for themselves, which hooks into an ancient evolutionary fear of being left behind or abandoned by our tribes, and so more people join in.

Neil So Ben Michaelis believes that people join crazes because they are afraid of being abandoned by others in their group. But I don’t think that’s true for me - I just enjoy playing games!

Alice Yes, but why have you switched from Angry Birds , to Minecraft , to Pok emon Go in the space of a year? And before that there was Candy Crush and…

Neil Well, I get bored after a while.

Alice So it isn’t because other people stop playing it? And they stop talking about it? And it stops being a group thing?

Neil Hmm. Maybe there is an element of that. Anyway, I like the idea that we join a craze because it’s beneficial - or good - for us.

Alice I’m not convinced that playing Pok emon Go is beneficial. Did you know, Neil, that in terms of personality type, people who are more emotionally insecure are far more likely to follow a craze? You know, sort of, herd mentality?

Neil Herd mentality describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviours. But it’s fun to be connected with others through a craze. Aren’t you troubled by FOMO?

Alice FOMO - or fear of missing out? Oh no, I have a strong sense of self. But… well, I must admit I like loom bands. Do you remember those little rubber bands you could make jewellery and other stuff out of?

Neil Yes, I remember. David Beckham wore a loom band bracelet…

Alice So did the Duchess of Cambridge. They were very popular a couple of years ago and came from a simple idea. Cheong Choon Ng, an immigrant from Malaysia living in the United States, invented the Rainbow Loom after watching his daughters play. Let’s hear his story.

INSERT Cheong Choon Ng, inventor of the Rainbow Loom The idea of loom band came from my daughters. So one day they came home from school. Two of them were teaching each other how to make rubber band bracelets from those small tiny ponytail size rubber bands. I tried to impress them by making a thicker bracelet that was made from a prototype loom that I fabricated. And it was a success. And they were telling me that ‘those bracelets are so cool, can you make more?’

Alice Cheong Choon Ng made a prototype - a first model of a machine from which all others would develop. He posted a video of his daughters making the bracelets and these went viral on the internet.

Neil Interesting. Now, I think it’s time for the answer to today’s quiz question.

Alice Yes. I asked: what is the best-selling toy of all time? Is it: a) the space hopper, b) the Rubik’s cube also known as magic cube, or c) the cabbage patch doll?

Neil It has to be the Rubik’s cube!

Alice And indeed it is. In the 35 years since the puzzle was available to buy outside of Hungary, where its inventor came from, approximately 350m Rubik’s cubes have been sold, making it the world’s best-selling toy. And they are clever little toys, I must say - there’s some maths in them. Now, let’s hear the words we learned today.

Neil They were: craze fad augmented reality beneficial herd mentality FOMO prototype And that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Don’t forget to join us again soon!

Both Bye!

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