Ever stumbled across a cool idea and thought ‘Wow! I’ve got to tell my friends about this’ but failed to get their attention early on? I found this with quite a few friends with Facebook, who finally signed up as early as last year. Using the theory of diffusion, we know innovations are adopted through stages of early adopters, to the majority of adopters and finally, like my friends mentioned above, the snobs who finally cave. Kadushin (2012) writes that the willingness to adopt certain ideas or tools is due to an individual’s threshold. For example, someone like myself who likes to try out new things jumped onto Facebook in 2007 when less than 10% of my known social network was using the tool. Others, like my snobby friends (haha sorry, you know who you are), have a much higher threshold and held out until closer to 85% of their network was using the tool. The decision on what threshold you have depends on how innovative you like to be with respect to 1) your personal network and 2) your social system. While my lower threshold was motivated by the desire to network outside of my direct personal network and to the wider social system, my friends with higher thresholds resisted as they were motivated to cultivate their personal networks and were highly critical of the impacts of social networking on the wider social system.
I do not mean to criticize the choice to have a higher threshold to innovations when posed to adopt them – it is a personal choice and should remain exactly that, a choice. All the while, I think many of us remember that tipping point when Facebook just exploded before our eyes. It was pretty exciting to be a part of and in my opinion easily worth the ‘guinea pig’ status often associated with being an early adopter.
“The Tipping Point – that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire” (Gladwell).