What bubble are you in?

June 9, 2017 at 9:37 am 1 comment

I’m a little bit more bemused, bewildered and irritated by the world around me than usual this morning and it’s not just because my Dunkin Donuts’ frozen coffee cost more than $5.00. If I’m going to spend that much money, I’m stopping at Starbucks and getting some real coffee. Let me tell you why I’m annoyed and how it relates to the landscape in which CU’s find themselves competing.

Yesterday we had a former FBI director testify that a sitting U.S. President can’t be trusted even as the president’s lawyer announced that his testimony vindicated our Commander and Chief;

The House passed mandate relief while effusively praising community banks. In reality the bill does much more to help the largest banks in the country than credit unions or small banks.

Our erstwhile ally in Great Britain suffered another self-inflicted wound as voters denied the conservatives a majority in parliament despite polls suggesting an electoral landslide for them. The vote comes less than two weeks before they begin negotiating the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union.

What does all this have in common? They are just the latest examples of a world in which we can not only choose our neighbors but our own “reality bubbles”. The explosion of information brought about by computing power isn’t creating a more meritocratic society in which we hash out issues in a virtual town square, but a more balkanized one in which a collection of tribes increasingly have nothing in common with each other. At the touch of a smartphone button we can find people who think what we think; buy what we buy; eat what we eat; read what we read; live where we live and bank where we bank. We even let kids choose their college roommate lest they be stuck with someone different than themselves.

It’s gotten so pathetic that a Google engineer designed an App to force himself to meet different kinds of people.

The practical point here is that there are two ways to prosper in this environment, either become one of the handful of companies like Facebook and Amazon that have the resources to be all things to all people, or become associated with a tribal niche. Netflix shows don’t get great ratings but they dominate specific demographics. Now, more than ever, credit unions have to pick the tribes they are going to appeal to.

Banking doesn’t mean the same to the socially conscientious millennial as it does to the fifty something year old investment banker or the first generation immigrant and it never will. They are in different tribes and they always will be.

So why am I irritated? This experiment we call the United States of America is predicated on the recognition that America is an incredibly diverse polyglot and the belief that, despite this diversity, its citizens can muddle through and reach consensus on the key issues of the day.

Increasingly though there is not the slightest desire for people to forge a common reality; instead we retreat to our respective bubbles with our “alternative facts”, complain about politicians, and wait for the next election to see what uncompromising band of tribal representatives will tally the most votes.

On that note, have a great weekend!

Entry filed under: General.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. C. Richard Wagner  |  June 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

    In my last employment (@ the NYC Board of Elections) there was a quote, popular among some employees, ” It’s not important who votes, it’s important who counts the vote” Joseph Stalin. Think about that when Election Day is a rainy Tuesday. We should , as a Movement tell our members to vote in all elections. Richard Wagner, Municipal CU


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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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