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Tech and the commoditization of talk & silence

The evolution of tech and its ability to help us communicate better has also brought about the opportunity for us to communicate more. So what I’m getting at here is that access to tech helps us listen and to be listened to.

Any advertising space that gives you an opportunity to speak to your target audience becomes valuable. As this keeps happening, we find ourselves caught in an orchestra of noise, and we become willing to pay a price, or do something in exchange for some silence.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

The ability to talk is now a commodity, to which its elasticity is a wavering construct. Tech and innovation keeps the supply bubbling, businesses keep the demand growing. The audience ends up paying the price of silence and mind space. Some prefer to curate who gets to talk to them. But in general, we’ve been commoditized and monetized.

Source: Worldwide Digital Ad Spending 2021, eMarketer, March 2021

Now what if we start selling silence then? This is not a new concept. Platforms are selling subscriptions that come ad-free. Vacations offer us the opportunity to disconnect from the daily grind. Caller ID gives us the option to choose who gets to talk to us.

As I type these thoughts out, it dawns on me that what you’re selling really depends on who you’re selling it to. Sell the opportunity to talk to the businesses, sell the silence to consumers.

Are we caught in a vicious cycle of commodity prices and trading? Will we start selling futures? Will the price of ad space become a factor in the commodity index and give us an indication of inflation? Is this a bubble and what happens if it crashes?

As a public relations professional in my day job, I often wonder about these things. PR has existed for quite some time, with historical roots predating the 20th century. It’ll be interesting to see how this continues to take shape in the context of today.

This blog post was inspired while reading Scott Bicheno’s book, Identity Crisis: One man’s search for meaning in a world that’s losing its mind. I’m only 28% in and here I am, blabbering on, with my brain darting everywhere. Check it out if that’s the effect you’re looking for.



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Geraldine Lee

Geraldine Lee


Media & influencer relations. B2B comms. Tech, telecoms networks, social science. Communicator by day @EricssonNetwork, erratic introvert by night.