The Internet and the Web 2.0 revolution has democratized media so that anyone surfing the internet can produce and consume content that they wouldn’t have been able to produce and consume 15 years ago. I am a heavy proponent of the widespread and diverse media sources that have sprouted from the revolution (aren’t we all?), but the more I think about it, I feel that I have a bit of an elitist perspective, more so than I originally thought.
With an increased amount of content generated, many consumers feel as if there is an increased amount of content they need to consume. There are only 24 hours in a day, and even people who spend half of their waking hours on the internet cannot consume it all.
So, they turn to sound bytes and other types of media that can be consumed quickly. They turn to sources that may or may not be credible. They consume at such a quick rate that they take almost no time to reflect on what they have just read and formulate an informed opinion or perspective. Because there is so much media to consume and so little time to consume it, they look to the opinions that are presented to them. And they in turn produce content based off of these opinions that are, to use a popular term, “spoon fed” to them.
(Before I continue, I just want to say that I am guilty of the very same type of consumption. I noteced myself doing it earlier today.)
Some of the media sources that we consume from are so obversely biased that just a little bit of critical analysis will reveal those biases for what they are, and a small amount of research will reveal whether or not they are credible. With the internet, such research is possible, but our overly consumeristic attitudes have conditioned us to move on to the next piece of media without thinking about it.
Coming from someone like me, this sort of attitude presents me with a bit of a paradox. I think it is our right as free individuals to be avid consumers. Our free market and or willingness to consume have helped create one of the greatest economies the world has ever seen. And yet, I think this same type of attitude, when translated into media consumption, hampers the efforts of the citizenry to become well informed.
I really believe that the decline of print media is contributing to the lack of reflection. Whenever I read a newspaper, I am rarely tempted to jump from story-to-story. In fact, I will often times re-read stories to make sure I got particular details correct. With print media, it feels like it takes longer for me to process a story, and I have to work harder to make sure I understand. But I can remember with much greater ease the stories I read and the feelings and opinions those stories evoked, and I feel much more comfortable discussing them.
Part of me is worried that the decline of print media will contribute to a less informed citizenry. But despite this, I would hope that government will not step in and create state-supported newspapers, regardless of whatever value they may have. Rather, I would hope that the citizenry realize the value of print media and support it by buying more print editions of newspapers.
I really don’t know where I was going with this rant.