Part of the fun of being a trend consultant, even a "microtrend" consultant like Mark Penn, is that you get to make up new words to describe cultural emergences. (Like "emergences." I don't even know if that's a real word. I just made it up.)
Making up new words (or "neologisms," which is itself not a neologism) makes it easier to discuss a trend in depth. But more importantly, it allows the trendsultant (see what I did there?) to identify themselves as the discoverer of the trend, even when the trend is really fucking obvious to everybody. Some examples:
People going out less to play with their gadgets is "cocooning." Thank you, Faith Popcorn.
People who create things are "prosumers." Thank you, Alvin Toffler.
You get the idea.
The above mentioned Mark Penn, who was the genius behind Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign strategy, now writes the Microtrends column for the Wall Street Journal. And oh boy, does he have a new doozy of an observation for all of us confused minnows, just rolling with the cultural tides without noticing a thing:
This is the age of the amafessional, when amateurs are rivaling professionals in opportunity, talent and the ability to produce quality work. It's happening in virtually every field. In areas ranging from communications to medicine to simply making things with your hands, amafessionals are gaining in numbers and the ability to market their services.
Whoa! He discovered MySpace! (RIP.)
Struggling amateurs used to want to become stars, and of course some still do, but this new phenomenon is different. Millions are participating just for the fun and challenge of it–-almost like running in a marathon. "Amafessionals" include both the amateur/professional hybrid and pajama professionals, who often work at home rather than the studio or the office.
It goes on and on. People without advanced degrees or long resumes are upending the music business, medicine, crafts, and journalism. So how does the "amafessional" differ from, say, the "prosumer"? Well, it's a longer word. And Penn can credit himself for thinking of it.
But if ever a baby deserved to be snuffed out in its bassinet, it's this one.