Here’s what’s wrong with infographics pushed out by marketing firms: Gyro and Forbes have put out an infographic summarising a “study” of 543 business execs in the USA. The findings have been published in Mashable. As the image below shows, 98% of these execs check their email during their leisure time. The infographic celebrates that working while not at work is seen as “freedom” by these business-types. This is a good thing! It’s research, folks! Follow the links to see the marketing firm that carried out this survey.
New technologies certainly provide a wide suite of platforms from which to access our work 24/7. Such technology can be particularly useful while travelling or while otherwise “on the go”. Yet this infographic normalises the idea that work and technology should dominate our lives. The data presented lack a critique of this behaviour. Instead, the ever-shrinking work-life balance experienced by execs is presented as “flexibility” and “empowerment”. This infographic, like so many countless before it, has proven a relatively effective marketing strategy. To date, over 2,000 people have shared this link via Mashable alone. Like traditional media that also presents survey data and marketing surveys as “facts” and oh-so-impressive “science”, social media makes it easy to share slick graphic designs that lack context and social critique.
I see that sociologists could reach a wider audience by presenting their research as infographics that display socially conscious and scientifically valid results. As a discipline, we do not make good use of visual methods, and hence infographics shared via social media seem to be dominated by marketing firms that partner with well-known publishers. What do you make of this infographic? How can sociology adopt visual methods to make our findings more digestible to broad audiences?