Yes, the weather is bad. Is marketing making it worse?

Weather illustration

Yes, the weather is bad. Is marketing making it worse?

Remember the quaint old days when it would rain cats and dogs occasionally, and Old Man Winter would give us a chill?

No more. These days, the weather has definitely taken a turn (Exhibit A: the water in my basement; Exhibit B: hurricanes, floods and fires everywhere else). But beyond these very real changes, the weather – like politics, news and entertainment – has undergone a marketing makeover that seems to dial up the extremes.

When it rains, it pours
You may have noticed (as Stephen Colbert recently did) that we’re living in an age of bomb cyclones – not to mention polar vortexes, arctic blasts, snowmageddon, and storms of the century (now, somehow, appearing weekly). What’s next, firenados and thundersnow (both real, by the way)? How about doom typhoons, monster squalls, hell hail, and face meltings? (Ok, we made those up.)

Of course, it’s not hard to see why weather is getting a rebrand for today’s culture. Amid all the noise out there, turning up the heat (or cold) to get a reaction is a surefire strategy to create additional engagement. Just ask Facebook, which gave angry emoji reactions 5 times the weight of “likes” in calculating which posts to boost.

Some weather humor from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

A silver lining to this cloud of gloom
While attracting eyeballs is surely the main reason for the rise in over-the-top weather terms, today’s dramatic reporting may actually be serving another, more worthwhile purpose: changing public opinion about climate change. 7 in 10 Americans are now aware of the scientific consensus that people are causing it. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too many more bomb cyclones to convince the rest.


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