Using new media for good, not evil
The sights and sounds of “new media” surround us at all times. Buzzes, dings, rings and push notifications are all part of the fuel that powers our increasingly interconnected world. A world of blogs and citizen journalists, amateur film makers and photographers, tweets, Vines, memes, emoji, snapchats, hashtags, likes, shares and comments. This is a world where media is for everyone, by everyone. It is made possible by new technology, the Internet and a generation of so-called digital natives.
I still remember the first YouTube video I watched. I was 11 years old. A friend of mine had sent a link to my email with an embedded video titled “C for Cookie,” a Sesame Street parody of the popular 2005 film “V for Vendetta.” The video was funny, simple and unique, but more importantly, it was created by an average guy with some simple video production knowledge and an idea. No giant production company with massive budgets and overpaid actors, no huge marketing campaigns or media promotions to capture my attention.
This video reached me simply because of the platform that it was shared on and the freedom that platform provided. It was an early example of the democratization of media, a cornerstone to a world where everyone communicates with everyone, all the time. This is the world of new media, and as part of that world, we have much to consider.
In order to fully understand the term “new media” we must understand media itself. Simply put, media is communication, whether through radio, newspaper, television or otherwise. We often hear the term used as a catch-all to describe most news organizations, as their number-one job (fundamentally speaking) is clear and unbiased communication of information to the masses.
This ability to communicate with so many used to exist only in the hands of a few, but now with the invention of the Internet, smart phones and social media, we are all capable of distributing information to the world. We call this “democratization of media,” and it is exciting for a number of reasons, but it is also very frightening.
If you fill a room with opinionated people and give them all megaphones, suddenly you have a room full of meaningless noise. The analogy should hit home with anyone who engages on social media. Try browsing Facebook for five minutes without reading something derisive, or without discovering massive amounts of division and misinformation. The fundamental idea of clear and unbiased information has been replaced by opinionated masses, empowered by new media and technology, but too selfish to realize that they are simply contributing to the noise.
We must use this gift that we have been given for good, not for evil. Instead of contributing to the noise, we must all learn to stop yelling and start listening. We must value facts and validity above rhetoric. We must stop being selfish and learn to understand and respect one another. When we can do those things, new media will become truly powerful.
Lucas Turner earned an associate degree in digital media production from Colorado Mountain College in 2015. He is the station manager for RadioCMC, which can be heard at 93.9 FM in Glenwood Springs, 102.7 FM in Aspen and http://www.RadioCMC.com.
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