At The End of the Day..
Here, at the end of my chronicles, it is fitting to consider the big question –why? Why consume media? What’s the point? What’s so interesting? Is it fueled by a deep craving for knowledge, curiosity, or entertainment? Why?
For me, its always been about being connected, to people and information.
Growing up in Singapore, my encounters with TV, newspapers and radio connected me with a world outside small island city. I developed an interested in ongoings in other countries, and connecting with global ideas and tend.
My daily media habits have been much informed by this, and in greater part by my life abroad. I signed up for Twitter and Tumblr to keep in touch with my best friend in Singapore, and started using Instagram to share a visual part of my life with them too. I thought about quitting Facebook until my Mum said she only got an account to keep up with me while I’m away. Often I check my RSS feeds out of borden and just to find out what’s going on around the world.
We talk a lot about how media changes habits, thinking and how it shapes information, but not enough about why people seek to consume it.
For many, we consume media to have a shared experience. In this highly globalized world, where more people are moving around the globe and are more connected than even, media is really a way to feel like we have company. That we’re not alone.
YouTube & the Rise of Internetainment
Last Spring I stumbled my way into the world of Internetainment – a new realm of entertainment with content produced primarily for online viewers, completely outside of Hollywood. As I mentioned on Day 2, YouTube is a source of my regular media consumption. This began when I discovered vloggers like the VlogBrothers and Rhett & Link (who identify as “Internetainers”). Both channels are so much more than just people talking into cameras, they now produce and create regular content specifically for their online audience.
What results is an interactive form of entertainment that spans various online media.
The most successful example of this is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a contemporary adaption of Pride and Prejudice created by Hank Green of the VlogBrothers and a creative team in LA, headed by Bernie Su. The beloved characters were brought to the 21st century, and the narrative was told by a series of video diaries by the main character. Each character had their own Twitter account, where part of the story would unfold. Viewers could follow the interactions of Lizzie and friends, as well as tweet the characters, and sometimes they would respond. Some characters had their own tumblr pages, that was updated with content true to each character.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries recently won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Program.
How the iPhone Changed Everything
I’ll admit it – I’m addicted to my iPhone. It’s almost literally attached to my hip, and I consume most of my daily media content on it.
The iPhone has changed my media consumption drastically over the last 3 years. I hardly use it as a telephone, more as a device to access the Internet. Most of the time, I use my iPhone to see what people are up to on Facebook, reply Whatsapp messages, check my email or read my RSS feeds. Okay, I also play Words With Friends.. basically I’m on my phone more often that not, but not using it for calls.
Because of this little gadget in my pocket, I’ve developed really poor media consumption habits. Yes, I sometimes stay in bed or stay up longer because I’m on Tumblr, or fell into a rabbit hole of YouTube videos, when I just meant to use the alarm on my phone.
I’m on my iPhone when I’m on the T, while waiting for coffee, as I do groceries or eating. It’s replaced maps, newspapers, magazines, notebooks in my life, and become so much more.
The problem with iPhones, and iPads too, is really the craving it creates in us for the latest gadget. Every 18 months a new iPhone is realized, and whatever latest version we had goes out of date. It’s a real problem when I hold the newest release and realize how backward my own phone is.
I can’t tell if the iPhone has been liberating or enslaving me.
It’s not official until it’s Facebook official.
Like most of my generation, I live a large part of my life virtually. Majority of my daily social interactions take place through applications and the Internet. Facebook in particular has transformed our socialization patterns, habits and thoughts, as well as popularized what we now know as social media.
To be honest, I really prefer life without Facebook. I admire peers who’ve never had Facebook accounts or deleted them. Facebook has made our social interactions and relationships so contrived. How many of your friends on Facebook are actually friends? What does “friend” mean?
Did you post that picture of yourself on vacation to share your life with others, or for the joy of gaining “likes”? Isn’t it awful to have your newsfeed flooded with a couples’ mushy wall-to-wall messages? (Get a virtual room!)
News from Tweets
Two years ago I remarked to my sister, “I always first learn about a famous person’s death on Twitter.” This now applies to major news events, like the shooting at LAX today. When shots were fired, or when officers first responded to the shooting last December at Sandy Hook, major news outlets tweet the information they have.
In many ways, Twitter has become my preferred medium of searching or receiving breaking news. Between local and national news agencies, the most updated on important situations is always readily available. In many ways, news on Twitter is usually more focused. Unlike local news on TV, only the most pertinent information is tweeted. Yes, there is a vast amount of false, inaccurate or trivial tweets out there (I’m looking at you Mr. Kanye West), but one needs to be discerning about what you read or who you follow.
I Don’t Watch TV, I Watch MacBook (?)
Happy Halloween! Here’s a scary thought – I don’t own a TV.
It sounds crazy, but I assure you it really isn’t.
My family loves watching TV. It’s on almost every night and we congregate for a few hours of our favorite shows.
It was hard when I moved off-campus with friends in college. Most of my housemates didn’t want to pay for cable, so I begrudgingly went along. Since then, I’ve never had a TV in my apartment.
I still watch TV, but there’s really no need for a television set. All of my favorite shows available online the day after they air. Why pay for cable when I just need the Internet?
For the next 7 days, I’ll be chronicling my daily consumption of media for a class assignment. It’s like a food diary, where you track what you eat so you become conscious of what you put in your body and try to eat better, but with media. Stay tuned for my Digital Diet.
Here’s my media intake on a typical day:
Wake up to the alarm on my iPhone. Grab the phone, silence the alarm and either browse WhatsApp messages received overnight from family in Singapore, or review emails. I have a theory that if I try to start reading things, it’ll wake my eyes and brain.
If I have time, I read emails on my iPhone while eating breakfast. If I have even more time, I browse through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. At some point, I open the NextBus app to check when the bus is coming.
On the commute to school, I go through my RSS subscriptions on Flipboard on my iPhone. BBC and the Atlantic feeds are where I spend most of my time, they have a good variety of news. I skim shorter articles that catch my eye, longer ones are saved on Instapaper for later. Next are Tumblr and Buzzfeed, my go-to feeds for entertainment.
While on campus and in class, I either use my iPad or laptop to pull up readings that are posted online. Most of my readings would have been done on either device. Gotta save the trees.
The evening commute is almost the same as the morning, but the content is different. I usually spend more time on social media, keeping up with what friends posted through the day.
Once I’m home, I usually kick back and catch up with my YouTube subscriptions. Different channels post new videos on a specific day each week. On Tuesdays and Fridays I catch up on the Vlogbrothers, on Mondays and Thursdays there are new episodes of Emma Approved, a modernized version of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Then I catch up with email, do homework or readings on my laptop. Sometimes I prefer to read on my iPad, where I can open pdf files or Kindle eBooks for class.
If there’s time or I’m bored, I’m either on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter or catching up with TV shows.
Alright, that’s a typical day for me. More tomorrow!