Trend Spotters

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed September 27, 2002

I've always been envious of trend spotters. You know, the people for the big national publications like Time Magazine, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal who can discern the next big thing. Whether its the hula hoop or bottled water or the SUV, they report on it while most people are only dimly aware of it. You read the articles and say to yourself, "Gee, I hadn't thought of it, but that's right on the money."

By the time I pick up on a new trend it's already passé. But there are a few things, you might call them trends, that I've been wondering about.

It seems that every time a child is killed in a crime or a horrible accident, a makeshift memorial appears at the scene. People bring teddy bears, other stuffed animals, and flowers. How and when did this all start? In the past, friends may have sent flowers to the home, or memorialized the victims at their school. But who started the practice of leaving teddy bears at the site of an accident? And why?

Another is the irritating habit of using the numerals 2 and 4 to stand for the words "to" and "for". Is it strictly a matter of shorthand, to save a few strokes when you put a sign in your yard "kittens 4 sale"? Or do people think it's cute? What makes it especially annoying is that "for" and "four" are not even pronounced quite the same way. I'd like to get to the bottom of this B4 2 long. If U have the answer, send it 2 me.

Bottled water is not exactly a new trend, but it seems to be more ubiquitous than ever. Everywhere you go, people are lugging those little plastic bottles. On a recent hot Sunday at Jacobs Field, water seemed to be selling faster than soft drinks and beer, and at nearly the same price. I bought a jumbo hot dog for $3.50 (regular hot dogs were going for only $2.50), and a bottle of water for $3.25. The time may come when you'll hear a conversation like this:

"Mommy, I want some water."

"We can't afford it. I'll buy you a Coke instead."

I'd like to have been the first one to notice that bottled water was moving from a niche market to a mass market. But as I've mentioned, I've never been good at that sort of thing. As we used to say in the news business, "If it happened today, it's news to us."

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Copyright 2002 Tom Reed