Farmers’ markets and social media

Halifax’s Farmers’ Market
I think I first wrote about the similarities between social media and farmers’ markets back in February and the image above has been a part of several presentations I’ve given in the past year or so. I stumbled upon Tom’s post referencing David Korten earlier this week and it got me thinking again. Here’s an excerpt from the referenced interview:

“…one of the interesting examples is the data that shows that people who shop in a farmers’ market have ten times the number of conversations of people who shop in a supermarket. And, you know, I know that from when I lived here in New York on Union Square and I did most of my grocery shopping at the farmers’ market. And, yeah, you meet people, and you talk, and you meet your neighbors, and you get acquainted with the farmer that grows your produce and so forth. And this is all about building relationships. And, you know, we have so monetized the economy, and a part of that process is monetizing relationships. And it diminishes our very humanity.” David Korten


Have you ever gone to a farmers’ market in a rush… when you just wanted to get in and out with minimal fuss? I have. It doesn’t work particularly well. You’re going against the grain… everybody else is taking their time, chatting with each other, sipping a coffee, etc. – no rush whatsoever. You may still be able to get in, get what you need, and get out, but you’ll do so with the understanding that your behaviour really is largely out of place and that your hurried pace is likely pissing others off. Everyone else is focused on the in-between… the stuff that happens between the times when they’re taking cash out of a wallet to buy stuff… and you’re just focused on the stuff.
So if the old, ‘traditional’ way of doing things was more like supermarkets – communication via ‘messages’ with minimal time for chit chat (just hurry up and buy something already!) – then today, it’s more like a farmers’ market.  There’s a lot more conversation going on – and you better get pretty good at the stuff “in-between”.

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