Let’s take a look at hype culture – its roots and its impacts – and see what all the “hype” is about.
An article appearing on the website complex.com/sneakers, entitled “How Hype Has Changed Since 2006,” notes that hype, or the excitement and anticipation surrounding an upcoming product, is extremely changeable and is determined solely by the public. “Hype” only exists as much as we allow it to, and unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world are willing to drop everything previously known or obtained in order to “fit in” with the newest trends. Marketplace.org explains that “hype” has existed in even the most common and unexciting settings, such as the classroom (see “Classroom tech: A history of hype and disappointment”).
One of the most stark and startling examples of the damage that hype can do to consumers is the case of the recently released game, “No Man’s Sky,” produced by Hello Games. For reasons ranging from fan expectations to high-profile media endorsements, this game was made out to be the greatest thing to ever hit consoles and PCs. Preorders for the game poured in by the thousands, with everyone sure that the game would fulfill their wildest dreams. The problem with all of this is that no one really knew exactly WHAT the game contained. There had been some vague promises and teases from the Hello Games executives, but beyond that, there was no real way to tell how the game would turn out. When the game finally did release, it failed to meet most fans’ expectations. Complaints and requests for refunds rolled in like a tidal wave. Many contended that Hello Games had misrepresented No Man’s Sky with doctored in-game footage and images. A great number were upset that the promised multiplayer components were not present in the game. Of the thousands who requested refunds, only a small number received them. They had pre-ordered the game, essentially giving Hello Games permission to release anything they wanted. After all, they had the money already; why should they care what any consumer thought about the game in the end? To their credit, Hello Games has continued working on No Man’s Sky and has released a number of updates that have improved the game’s quality and added many of the features that were initially promised.
However, there is an important lesson here, one that the public would do well to remember. When we choose to give control of our income and power to a company, person, or organization, we take a serious risk of them abusing that trust and power. The culture of “hype” will likely never end; in fact, one could argue that hype has been around, in at least some form, almost since the beginning of time. Every age of the world sees people searching for that “next big thing,” taking little thought for the potential consequences of endorsing those things. What can be done about hype? The best course of action, as an individual, is to refuse to buy into the culture of exaggeration and over-excitement that pervades our society. Be an informed citizen and a smart consumer. Refuse to take things at face value, and be savvy to the rampant misinformation spread in print, on the internet, and through television. When we stop surrendering our free will to companies who would deliver sub par products and experiences, we begin to protect our families and communities against abuses of power by those who would manipulate us for the sake of money.
The entire presidential election can be described as hype culture. We elected a president based in no small part on freaking MEMES.