When I was a kid, we used to play outside; hide and seek was a popular choice, or we would climb trees and get our knees scuffed when riding our bikes around town. Back in the day, people still knew how to talk to each other — but now, with the rise of social media and the fact that everybody has a phone (a third of today’s 8 year-olds have one!), we have lost that connection. But did we really?
Our media is full of news on how cellphones are consuming our attention and videos of people bumping into lamp posts, because they were staring at their phones. But I am constantly reminded of a statement from Marshal McLuhan: “The medium is the message.” Because when one is searching for answers to basic social behaviour, they are sometimes hidden in the tools that we use, rather than the information they provide us with.
Media consumption is nothing new. If you type into Google the term: “people reading newspapers”, you will be greeted by an enormous array of images, depicting masses of men and women staring at newspapers. And one could ask themselves, has anything really changed since the invention of the iPhone?
The availability of information and the ease by which we can consume it have changed dramatically, and with both, the scale of media consumption has skyrocketed. But the point for us creators is, it hasn’t only become more easy to consume information, but also to produce it.
Whereas before you had to have a giant infrastructure to produce a radio show, now you can got to Anchor.fm and make a podcast for free with your phone. Whereas before, in order to get in, you had to immerse yourself into show business, find the right contacts and get through all the pesky gatekeepers of the industry. Now you can just grab your phone and shoot a video and upload it to IGTV or Youtube. The barrier to entry has vanished.
Still, 95% of us will never become famous or wealthy by these technological advances. The most part, this isn’t because we aren’t good at what we do, but because we do not put in the required time and effort to produce constant, quality content for our audiences.
Some of us bicker about how people used to talk more, when in reality, we have never been more connected. We whine about how it’s hard to get people to care about our work, yet most of us don’t even take the time to reply to the comments in our Instagram account. Or to actually ask the most important question: “Will what I say or do actually help someone out there or is everything I’m doing just about me?”