We’re all creatures of our tribes.

Except me. 

At least that’s what I’d like to believe, but nope. 

Humans have always been pack animals. Biologically, it was a function of survival – the larger and stronger my pack, the safer I’ll be.

But social media has taught us that our need to belong is more nuanced. Having a worldwide web at my disposal allows me to find people like me. A “block” button allows me to refine my pack until it’s the closest reflection of how I see myself. Judging by the countless memes I see, even introverts enjoy organizing and commiserating (actually, boasting) among other introverts.

The size of my pack matters less than its uniformity. 

There are certainly negative, even hideous, byproducts of this phenomenon. Social media’s ability to connect people with thousands of others who share their likes and beliefs – however outlying or depraved they might be – gives even the most extreme among us an outsized sense of normalization. See: “Silent Majority.”

And as my tribe becomes more configured to my liking (nearly half of all U.S. adults have unfriended someone because of their political views), I define myself increasingly by what I’m NOT. Being anti-MAGA or anti-Woke is as central to our identity, perhaps more so, than anything we are for. 

Coalescing – proudly – in ever more configured groups, while juxtaposing ourselves to “the others,” can have funny (actually, sad) –effects. See here: 

Amazingly, since 2016 (the birth of modern tribalism), the percentage of Americans who are overweight fell 7 points. The percentage addicted to their digital devices fell 9 points. Or so they said. LOL.

“Sure, I could probably stand to lose a few pounds, but I’m not as fat as those people.”

“It’s obnoxious how kids constantly stare at their phones,” he says, while posting it on Twitter at the dinner table. 

Within our tribe, validation and self-promotion is oxygen, whether we admit it or not. Take a look at this:  


Translation: “I’m my complete authentic self on social media but everyone else is full of shit.” Right. I’ll bet the over on the chart to the right. 

Finally, here’s why all this matters to advertisers and media:  

The concentration and fragmentation of tribes is fundamentally changing the way people discover everything from TV shows to products to news to restaurants. The tide turned – perhaps permanently – last year. Our fields of influence and trust are getting tighter and tighter.     

If you aren’t thinking about these forces in the context of your lives or your business, you’re deluding yourselves. 

Maybe that’s just what we do.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Meanwhile, people feel like the digital ads they see are becoming more relevant. So much about this study feels counterintuitive. As Apple more or less destroyed user tracking on iOS, ad tech types (and Facebook) argued it would devastate their ability to serve high-performing ads across the web. Consumers are reporting otherwise, however, as the number of U.S. adults who say digital ads they see are at least somewhat relevant to them has climbed from 30% to 41% over the past two years. Reconciling this with my rant above, however, note that only 6% of Americans think the ads they see are “very relevant.” Two takeaways from all this: 1) We don’t need to spy on people to serve them good ads; 2) There’s still huge room for improvement. Ask me about our Rulo platform. 

Prescription drug usage is WAY up since the beginning of the pandemic. A whopping 70% of U.S. adults are taking one or more prescription drugs on a daily basis, up from just 56% in 2019. Twenty-four percent are taking four or more, a big jump from 18% before COVID entered our lives. No surprise, there’s a big correlation with age – people taking four or more scripts every day significantly over-index as Medicare or Medicaid users. Another 24% of Americans say they’re unable to take their meds as prescribed because of cost. Yikes. Help is on the way as Medicare will eventually be able to negotiate with drug manufacturers on price… in 2026!

The pain of inflation could impact sports betting as the NFL Playoffs kick off. Seventeen percent of Americans 21+ say they are at least somewhat likely to put a wager on the NFL postseason or Super Bowl. That number leaps to 61% among users of online sports book apps like FanDuel or DraftKings. A sign of the times, though, the expected average wager has shrunk considerably compared to this time a little over a year ago. I guess that’s what happens when the Steelers don’t make the playoffs.

Hybrid workers are the most worried about losing their jobs, by a lot. More than 1 in 3 working U.S. adults say they are at least somewhat concerned about being laid off this year, with 1 in 10 saying they are very concerned. People working full-time in a physical location are the least pessimistic. At the other end of the spectrum, people working a mix of in-person and remote are fretting the most. Perhaps to get ahead of things, 45% of workers say they are likely to search for a new job this year, with 40% of those seekers citing higher pay as their reason for looking elsewhere. 

Paramount+ is a better place to fish, compared to Netflix, for premium advertisers right now. In the latest example of our increasingly-popular Audience 360 product, we looked at the psychographic differences and trends between Paramount+ and Netflix users. I was admittedly surprised to see how much more economically optimistic, financially secure, and overall healthier Paramount+ users were, relative to both NFLX (although their users are better than average too) and the U.S. population at large. It tells us that P+ is a great breeding ground for premium brands looking for capable buyers. We have this same data for every streaming platform and the broader media landscape as well. Reach out if you’re interested. 

Gen Z is going to be high as f—k this month. Over half of adults aged 21-24 said they were at least somewhat likely to participate in Dry January this year because they obviously don’t realize they only have a few more years until they can’t recover from hangovers anymore and what the hell is college for anyway. Anyhoo, over a third of those little teetotalers are planning to up their weed game instead – replacing their booze with cannabis or CBD. Eleven percent are filling the void with kombucha. Huh? 

   More studies you need to read this week:

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: 2nd; Trick question, performing well uplifts others; More frugal; Hard disagree; I hope not; Absolutely not.

Hoping you’re well.


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