On a transatlantic flight, you receive a text message indicating that a passenger will die every 20 minutes unless you wire $150MM to a specific bank account. Must be some sick joke, right? Not when a passenger does die. That’s the scenario faced by U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks, played by Liam Neeson in the thrilling film “Non-Stop.”
I watched the movie (on DVD) and enjoyed it. As the credits rolled, I thought back on elements of the plot and how much they reflect the world we live in. Let me explain.
Text First, Talk Later
It amazes me how much of a “text first” culture we’ve become. Teens and adolescents? I get that. They grew up with mobile devices and texting was a natural way to communicate. What’s fascinating is to look at the adolescents’ parents. They’re now using texting as a primary form of communication. Let’s face it: we adults often text with each other more than we talk.
This rings true in the movie: Neeson carries a secure phone and the terrorist on board has figured out a way to tap into the secure network. The protagonist and antagonist communicated exclusively via texting! Neeson confronts the antagonist face-to-face once he figures out his identity. But I’ll stop here, because I don’t want to spoil the ending.
You Can’t Hide: Everything is Recorded and Shared
If I was a celebrity, I’d be nervous about walking down the street. Imagine I slip and fall on the sidewalk. A passerby would have the smartphone ready, record it and post it to YouTube before he offered me a hand to get up.
In the movie, Neeson suspects one of the passengers as the terrorist. He grabs him, yells at him, pushes him down the aisle, then shoves him down. When it’s revealed that the bank account is in the name of Neeson’s character, he quickly becomes the suspected terrorist. Passengers tune in to the televisions on their seatbacks and the TV networks are already running the story. They play video footage of Neeson, captured and shared by one of the other passengers.
News Breaks and is Shared in Real-Time
As real-time events unfold, they’re captured and shared (in real-time) on social media and the web. I did plenty of air travel with no TV or WiFi on board. Now, a smartphone captures a moment on the plane, WiFi enables it to be shared and in-flight TV enables passengers to watch footage of what just happened. Wow.
I’m waiting for the day when the winning lottery number will be tweeted before the number is drawn (we may as well profit from this!).
Draw Conclusions First, Ask Questions Later
I found Neeson’s in-flight decision making to be a bit like, “shoot first, ask questions later.” Granted, he was facing the prospect of a passenger being killed every 20 minutes. So he was under a lot of pressure to identify the terrorist.
But at the same time, he’d act decisively on a single strand of information. This often led him down unproductive paths that distracted him from finding the culprit.
I see parallels online. Social media and its short-burst nature of posts and updates has made it far too easy to share quick-hit opinions with the world. These opinions are often shared before facts can be checked and issues can be vetted. It’s easier to post those 140 characters than to perform further research.
Non-Stop was a hit, taking in over $90MM at the box office. You can’t really go wrong with any movie starring Liam Neeson. What’s interesting, though, if how well the plot mirrored the world we live in. The movie’s non-stop action eventually comes to a close. It’s the world’s media consumption and sharing, though, that’s truly Non-Stop.
How This Relates to My (Non-Stop) Day Job
There’s an overabundance of media today and it’ll only get “worse” (i.e. more media). This creates challenges for anyone producing media, whether you work in B2B or B2C.
DNN performed a 2014 research study that shows the pain felt by B2B marketers. For instance, 79% of marketing executives say it’s a challenge to get (and hold) the attention of target customers, and 72% say it’s difficult to find their target audiences online.
You can find these and more interesting stats (about the research) on the DNN website.
Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn.