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What is the Feiler Faster Thesis?

Niki Acker
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Feiler Faster Thesis (FFT) is a term used in modern journalism which holds that the increasing pace of society, particularly as seen in American politics, is matched and perhaps driven by the media's ability to report news and the public's desire for information. It is named after author Bruce Feiler, who is credited with developing the concept in regards to the 2000 primaries. Journalist Mickey Kaus coined the term "Feiler Faster Thesis" in an article published on 9 March 2000.

Mickey Kaus first wrote about the Feiler Faster Thesis on 24 February 2000 in his blog, Kausfiles, and in an article in the online magazine Slate, though he did not yet give it a name. In this article and the later one, Kaus explained that such technology as the Internet and 24-hour cable news allowed information to be reported at an accelerated rate. He also noted the compressed schedule of the 2000 US general election primaries and wrote that the trend of accelerated media coverage lessened the impact of the increased pace of politics. An important part of the Feiler Faster Thesis is that modern society is able to process information at an increased rate, not just that the rate of reporting information has increased.

The Feiler Faster Thesis traces its roots back further than Feiler, to a 1999 book by James Gleick called Faster. The main thesis of the book is that the pace of society, particularly in America, has increased in tandem with modern technology. People lead faster-paced, more hectic lives, spending less time on any given task in order to fit more in. Efficiency is the goal of our times, in everyday life, in politics, and in the exchange of information.

While one can easily see the Feiler Faster Thesis in action on a day-to-day basis, it remains unclear to what extent and in which direction the media, politics, and the general public are influencing each other to become faster and faster. Whether the driving force is people's desire for information or the sophistication of today's technology remains a matter of speculation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By anon149555 — On Feb 04, 2011

What a total crock of self-aggrandizing rubbish by professional disseminators of dis/mis-information. The news media is owned and operated by a very small and extremely wealthy group of individuals who are part of the power elite. Hidden agendas, spin doctor twisting of fact; the whole profession is in total disrepute. What passes for “news” is little more than yellow journalism dressed up for prime time television. Bunch of wasters the lot of them.

As for the alleged thesis? Yet more garbage. Cognitive load theory and the known threshold of human capacity for processing new – novel information alone make the whole slant to be just so much brain addled drivel.

By anon149268 — On Feb 03, 2011

One of my professors, in my psychiatric residency back in 1977, said there was a theory that whenever there is an explosion of information in society, there is also a marked increase in certain mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, in individuals who cannot cope with the faster pace of life, and also a revival of religious values and cults among people who are trying to make sense of their lives midst all the chaos.

He pointed to the parallel timing of the European renaissance and the witchcraft hysteria, and also the religious revivals and Utopian societies in England and the US, occurring during the 19th century industrialization of both nations.

He predicted we would see more of all of the above as our society got increasingly loaded with available information. I think he was spot on.

By anon149195 — On Feb 03, 2011

I think the Feiler Faster Thesis is not, in reality a thesis, but is more of a concept in which the idea of faster digression of information is given a name. It's too bad that Kaus did not care to mention that journalism no longer follows its own Code of Ethics particularly since reporting the news has become very biased and is reported with a political stance.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
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