While drinking an excellent bottle of Fullers Bengal Lancer this weekend and tweeting thanks to the people who had suggested it to me, it dawned on me that I couldn’t genuinely recommend a beer to anyone. Of course I could tell them that I had tried a beer and enjoyed it, what they do with that information is up to them, but that would be almost always second-hand information. Someone else, maybe months or years ago was the first to try the beer, they told someone else, posted it on their social media application, blogged about it, wrote a piece for a newspaper and so on. See also food, fashion, music, film, the arts etc.
…diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system – Everett Rogers
I’m not saying my role in this is pointless, but I think having realised that my part to play is just a cog in the ongoing game of Chinese whispers I’m comfortable with it. I’m not a pioneer, I’m one of the settlers that follow the trail blazers. In the same way that I shaped my musical tastes through my brothers vinyl collection, or was told how funny The Day Today or Father Ted is. I can think of loads of examples and for each one I’m months, sometimes years behind the early adopters. By the way, I don’t suck everything up, I also have an opinion and a brain [see: no Grolsch bottle tops on my Hi-Tec 4×4 trainers back in the late 1980’s]. I believe the same goes for drinking ‘craft’ beer and I think it’s fair to say that I make the majority of my purchases based on someone else’s experience and their appraisal. More often than not these will be people whose opinions I respect so I have no problem in taking their word for it. A risky strategy at times and I do sometimes wonder what they saw in a beer, but a strategy that certainly narrows the field. They take the risk, trying prototypes, letting us know when the brewer finally nailed the recipe and can be rewarded by getting to be ‘the first’ or the ‘trend setter’, but on the flip side they also find the pitfalls and must resent wasting their money at times. So, while I’m playing safe [as usual], I’m not the guy with a Betamax in the attic which is sitting on a stack of Laserdiscs, nor do I have a case of some insipid dishwater and excuse for beer next to the out-of-date tonic water in the garage. I’m a Laggard. So keep up the good work guys, I’m counting on you!