Wednesday, March 26, 2008

800 Channels: Media-Options As A Community Hinderance

Real Simple. Field & Stream. GQ. Texas Monthly. Entertainment Weekly. US News and World Report. Atlantic Monthly. Men's Health. Popular Science. Wired.

Fox News. TLC. CMT. The CW. Game Show Network. ESPN 2. HBO.

Tivo the Office. Netflix The British Office.

Art films. Direct-to-video Horror films. Critic Favorites. Summer Blockbusters. Raunchy Romantic Comedies.
One of the awesome things about our current time is that there is tons of information out there...sure it's information overload, but who's stopping it?

Yet as Entertainment Media becomes more diverse, it also means that individually we are exposed to a more diverse collection of entertainment.

One of the goals of entertainment is to escape, relax, and so forth. But another reason we watch CNN, read sports illustrated, get the local paper, read Oprah's recommended reading, and watch certain shows is because it is through media we relate to others.

If you aren't keeping up with College Basketball tournament you may be disconnected from others at work or in social situations. Or perhaps this year in your social group there were those who cared about who won certain Academy Awards, while others said "I haven't seen any of these movies." Or maybe you feel isolated when others gather around the water-cooler and are discussing their American Idol picks and you could care less.

The ideas behind "modern community" are very important to me. As I discussed most-recently, the challenge of meeting our need for community is often a HUGE challenge. While there are many hindrances to community, the expanding breadth of media-options seems as though it really hinders community.

A great connection point for developing relationships can be common interest or experiences. And while maybe we come from different backgrounds, experiences, or are different ages, the ability to discuss sports, movies, television, or news often provides an opportunity to lay relational foundations, spark conversations and create communal building blocks.

It's much safer to discuss about how Dr. Gregory House (House, MD.) is a lovable cranky TV character, then to dive into discussions about our joys, pains, hopes, and fears.

Yet if I spend my time being entertained watching the History Channel and The Food Network, while you watched ESPN classic and a Sponge Bob Square Pants Marathon, how in the world are we going to begin to connect to one another.

I acknowledge that life is far deeper than the magazines we read and the television we watch, yet the over-nichification of media outlets seems to hinder our ability to develop community and form relationships.

People may not want to discuss religion, politics, or even family-relationships in the early stages of relationships, but they may discuss that surprise moment on Survivor, the last moments of the football game, or even that funny video on YouTube...but you probably missed Survivor, the football game, and there's no way you saw that video.

My point is not that we should complain, sell our TVs, or all only listen to NPR and have meaningful discussions at independently owned coffee shops.

Instead, I think it's valuable to expose ourselves to as much breadth to the cultures we live in, occasionally sacrificing depth, in order to engage culture at an interpersonal level. We must interact with culture to engage people, and if we try to engage people with no cultural context we might not really have anything to talk about.

I also think there's values in experiencing media and culture with others. See movies with friends. Visit art galleries, go to concerts, and even read magazines with other people. We already have personal computers, our own cellphones, bathrooms, one cup coffee makers. We don't need our own niche entertainment media. Experience culture with others. Share your interest, and even more importantly try to understand what the people around you see in foreign films/rap music/soccer.


Ando said...

Good post. To me half the fun of seeing a movie, TV show, or sporting event is being able to talk about it with friends afterwords.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite memories of you involves a tv show. Not necessarily watching this show... but watching YOU try out for it.

Another great post.

You are on a roll.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I think as media becomes more diverse, we will cease to see TV shows and other media having the power to spark conversation as they once did. There won't be that many "water cooler" shows because there will be so much to choose from it will be difficult to find two people who watched the same thing!

Mob said...

That was a great post, I like the idea of trying to bring the concept of human fellowship back into the small pleasures we enjoy from day to day.

Now if the guy next to me would pull out the ear buds from his iPod and stop texting and LOLing, I might have a chance to talk to him about something, right?