Let’s talk more about our lives in media and discuss if its ubiquity has transformed us, people, into a platform for the media. Instead of the reverse. First, I need to debunk a few old theories.Media participation is not linear
Two years ago I believed we moved back and forth between leader and participation roles in media, citing Harry Hochheiser and Ben Schniederman. I argue the egalitarian nature of social platforms allows anyone to lead a discussion, whereas formerly in hard media, that ownership belonged to the journalists. But now we can see how protests and movements have emerged in the last two years that identities between two binary points is too linear for how we live in media. Participation was distributed, networked and certainly not following a straight path.
When the year two-thousands rolled over, we found a better way to talk about remixing and reusing content as something new. Bolter and Grusin, in 2000, articulate this thing as remediation. Essentially, when we refashioning some kind of media to make a new piece of media. Which is ever present in our lives as more people than ever before are DJing tracks from producers, making animated gif memes from cinema and old-film filters on sharp, new photograms.
…this is a life of constant communication and conversation, part of a reality that is supposedly hackable and remixable by everyone, that is therefore always dynamic, unpredictable and permanently under construction. It forces each and every one of us to reconstruct our lifestyles to adapt to a world where the results of our actions are almost impossible to foresee given that we live in a world that is inextriably networked, confronting everyone with an almost limitless supply of fragile forms of reality and truth – simply by switching on a radio or television, by consulting a website or opening an email. [Deuze, 3]
And our lives now, so fluid and changing faster than they ever have before, with multiple communication streams which directly effect not only our thoughts and emotions but how we make decisions and take action, impact our extremely networked communities.
We can no longer look at our lives as falling in and out of media phases. And many of us go to ‘unplug’ or be ‘off the grid’ in search of more organic or normal experiences. But we are announcing and declaring we are choosing a path of something temporary and unnatural, desperately taking our lives out of media, where even still we are reading books, hearing music, seeing photography if not creating any and all of those things. Which is my point here.
Media participation is high: writing, posting, sharing, etc. Nearly everyone online is a creator of some kind. But the rising echelon, the early adopters and the younger participants, are those whose lives have always been in media. Streams of information going in and coming out and without a flinch, see themselves and consumers and producers as the same thing, a lifestyle that also needs no title and certainly not a bi-lateral delineation.
And to Marshall McLuhan, the message is so much more than just the medium now.
But, what, indeed, is the case is that the ubiquitous media in our lives, becomes the influence, if not the content of who we are and who we will become. Now more than ever, we are what we eat, but also what we do, how we think and what we say and what we make. It is too pedestrian to say this is a remix generation.
What’s happening now in our world, is not combining two or three pieces of existing work to make something new. What’s happening now is what art and expression has always done: create work, music, photos, texts. We are creating statements about what is happening now and what’s happening now, always, in all these moments is in media, even if it is not immediately present.
But what sets apart society now from what’s been called a ‘remix culture’ is that because our lives are in media, even when we’re off the grid and disengaged, is a life and relationship with media.
Once, we used social media, personal websites and self-published books as a platform to share and post our ‘original’ works. While, though, others asked if there was ever an original piece of work. But now, we can barely even ask that question. Our lives are in media, as is our statements and our works, which are our lives, which too, are in the ubiquity of both being media and being in media.
But is it possible for media to be so ubiquitous that in fact, instead of people using media as a platform that we, the people are platforms for media?