All media coverage of new things follows the same pattern.
The tech industry has a concept known as the media hype cycle which was originally created by Gartner the business analyst consultancy.
The hype cycle works like this:
There is a trigger when the media becomes aware of a new buzzword. In this case ‘Mindfulness’. Bear in mind that at this stage it is absolutely a buzzword because the media understandably knows nothing about it.
The Peak of Inflated Expectations
The trigger is followed by the media hyping up that buzzword and everything related to it in what is known as ‘the peak of inflated expectations’.
The Trough of Disillusionment
The spike of uninformed speculation is inevitably followed by the ‘trough of disillusionment’ as the hype fails to live up to the media’s initial expectations and they then zero in on anything that could possibly contradict the hype they created in the first place. sigh…
The Slope of Enlightenment
Then we have the ‘slope of enlightenment’. This occurs when the media can no longer hype or rubbish the buzzword any longer as it has all been said many times and the reality behind the concept emerges. This also means the readers and viewers want more than uninformed opinion and so instead of publishing meaningless soundbites, recycled news stories and rewording press releases from poorly supported studies; real journalistic work must be done. It also takes this long for some journalists to build a level of expertise in the subject that enables them to comment on it in an informed manner.
The Plateau of Productivity
This final stage is the point at which the concept has been assimilated as an accepted practice. This is where we see the real benefits. For mindfulness, in the UK, this will probably take another five to ten years. Mindfulness is a natural trait which massively reduces the burdens of our crazy artificial life and I fully expect it to become more integrated into study, work and daily life as time goes on.
Where we are right now
Right now, mindfulness media hype is somewhere between the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ and the ‘trough of disillusionment’. I read stories both hyping and rubbishing mindfulness. These are often contradictory and often from the same sources. This is the understandable confusion that comes from trying to comment on something that is out of our experience. In time, various news sources will take sides and mindfulness will probably develop a political bias. Only about one in every ten articles I read has any balance or a foundation in fact worth reporting. When I find balanced or informative articles, I post them on Twitter. We need to move away from extreme and unhelpful interpretations of what is a subtle and beneficial practice.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness keep an eye on this blog or my Twitter feed: