“Those with space in their mind are called wise, those with no space are called otherwise.” – Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati
Thinking about it: why we do it, what we say with everything we post.
I’ve found myself exposed to the random thoughts, musings and effluvia of people I barely know and am not all that interested in.
You know how it goes…you connect ‘cause why not? Then they become a part of your daily media dose for better or — more likely — for worse. And you are too lazy to do anything about it.
For some people, social media is an identity crutch. They are strangers to themselves, unable to be alone with themselves in peace. They post and post and post as if to say over and over: “This is who I am, acknowledge me, love me.”
I wonder what their lives would be like in the absence of social media. Would they be even lonelier? Would they feel less empowered, connected, accomplished if they didn’t project their every move and thought onto a semi-anonymous sea of others?
Why as a culture do we have this collective impulse to announce our meals, our workouts, to relentlessly document our children and pets? What lack are we trying to compensate for? Why can’t we live and let live … why can’t we let it be?
I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now. Over that time I’ve struggled with questions of vanity, self-expression and disclosure. What’s too much? Why am I doing this at all?
The appeal of blogging for me is now more pronounced (although I rarely blog anymore, given my free time-devoid existence). The people who read blogs came there specifically to read it. They showed up there on their own volition. Your thoughts, feelings, ideas, words, pictures, impulses were not foisted upon them as they are in social media. Sure, people can choose who to friend/follow on social but so rarely do they carefully curate what they actually see each day. Who has the time for that?
On my part, it’s time I start using my in-between moments more wisely and checking social media less. It’s delivering too much junk and noise into my already cluttered consciousness. I can use those spare moments to breathe, stretch, call a friend and chat if only for a few minutes.
if there’s one thing i’ve learned in a decade of doing public relations for high power individuals: you can’t be all things to all people. some folks are gonna love you no matter what because they need someone to believe in, to look up to, and to give them a sense of order as the chaos of real life spins around us. others, too, will hate on you. because they hate authority. they identify with the story of the haves and have nots. the notion that someone else’s riches most certainly come at the expense… and more likely exploitation… of others. what’s interesting is how the individual can get lost in all of this. we project our own issues onto leaders and figure heads, making them responsible for our successes and failures, our joys and pains. and these larger than life figures are the partners in that strange dance, taking responsibility (sometimes) for the stuff that goes right, or wrong. it will always fascinate me.
but i digress. the point is: tiger’s spectacular failure yesterday. here is a guy who went into hiding like a little weenie boy at a time when he should have showed his face and accepted responsibility. the longer he hid, the more his image suffered. finally, over a month late, he showed up in a highly staged, highly controlled setting and gave a robotic speech that covered WAY TOO MUCH GROUND.
he spoke for 13.5 minutes. that was 8.5 minutes too long. all the public wanted to hear was
1) he was sorry and
2) when he’s coming back to golf.
instead he meandered into self indulgent defenses and attacks … he did not use performance enhancing drugs (of course we were all thinking viagra instead of steroids) … people should not blame elin (dude, no one blamed elin. if anything we loved the thought of her giving tiger the beatdown. the chinese new CGI video? brilliant!)… the media shoud respect his children’s privacy (sorry dude, but you put your family into this terrible position and have no right to whine about it). then to bring buddhism into it? that smacked of total insincerity. one of my favorite comments to come across Twitter was that he meant “Booty-ism.”
there are few people in the world with the stature and power of tiger woods. when he speaks, the entire world listens … especially after this crazy debacle. at this stage in the game, people did not want to know “tiger’s side of the story.” short and simple would have gone a whole lot further to begin the healing. he has to earn our trust and patience back before he’s allowed to have a say in anything. all we wanted was an indication of his acceptance and repentance. utter humility and a bit of real info (when he’s coming back) was what the event called for. yet tiger, in his unending hubris, decided to make it about himself: his side of the sordid tale. clearly, he is still surrounding himself with sycophants who shield him from reality.
the big reveal came today. it’s cool. didn’t blow my mind, but it’s hard to blow anyone’s mind anymore … now that we can all watch the sausage being made. apple is brilliant at buzz and mistique-building because they are the vault.they don’t manipulate the press per se. they create amazing products, market them shrewdly and let consumers provide the evangelism. that’s a model to aspire to. that said, the name ipad leaves something to be desired IMO (and the jokes have been flying). am sure they debated it and came out on the side of simplicity and consistency. an alternative name?
who knows. but this name takes me back to the awkward days of early puberty.
My master’s thesis was about how the notion that the media is not part of the stories it reports on is absurd. I hold fast to that viewpoint. Just look at the history and it’s clear that “objectivity” was adopted by newspapers as a market strategy. Offer all sides, appeal to all readers, sell more papers. Information is social. It is not pure. It is a product of the people and processes that create it. In that vein, this is a great article about how Jon Stewart called FOX News out on some bogus footage they used to create a story.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck’s Protest Footage|
I work in media. For the past decade or so the powers that be were worried about online versus TV. Was online going to “kill” television the way television “killed” radio? The way it “killed” the major record labels and newspapers? By “kill,” lets’ admit we mean “lessen the social and economic impact of.” It does not mean “destroy or make extinct.”
Sometimes less is more but when billions of dollars are on the line, not so much.
As an industry, we focused more on the platforms than on audience behaviors. Our economic models are wrapped up in the platforms … but users don’t care. We just want what we want (I am counting myself among the users here). Mostly, we want options. Make it easy, make it simple, make it entertaining.
In the case of television, the question is not when and how online will “kill” TV … the question is how will people choose to watch their video?
… will they watch it live? … will they watch it timely (close to the original airdate … or weeks, months or years later?) … will they watch it on demand?
And how can we influence that decision? How can we incentivize (sorry to use that cheesy business non-word but it works for me) people to pay attention when where and how we want them to?
The cable guys are all freaking out because the chord cutting phenomenon is becoming real. Consumers are deciding that they don’t need to spend $100+ a month to get a giant package of content when all they want is about 10% of what’s offered. Now people can cherrypick what they want through other means (Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Boxee, etc.). It’s the same thing that happened to albums. People were tired of paying $15 – 20 for a crappy album when all they wanted was a song or two. They wanted it unbundled and they got their wish!
Broadcasters, who are the content engine of the entire media ecosystem, are divided on what to do. They are fine with distributing online as long as they can monetize it meaningfully and not cannibalize their existing business. Cable chord cutting wouldn’t really bother them so much … except for the fact that the cable guys pay them retransmission fees. If the cable guys are hurting, then they have less guaranteed income to return to broadcasters.
It’s pretty complicated. If you care to read a bit more, this is a decent article.
Distribution matters aside, the intersection of search and social and video on demand is what’s very much on my brain at the mo. Yesterday I signed up for a social search service called aardvark. It lets you tap into your social nets to ask questions and get and give answers from real people in real time.
For example, I am moving to the East Village on Friday and want to get an idea of Yoga studios in the hood. I typed my question into a browser and within less than a minute I had an AIM message with an answer. A good answer. I got an email a few hours later with more good answers. A few hours later, another email came, with more options. So now I have a list of Yoga Studios in the East Village provided by people who use and like them – not by the studios that paid the most for SEO. Pretty cool.
the central question that occupies my brain most days is: what do people pay attention to? think about the phrase: pay attention.
attention is the most valuable thing in the world. it is brain juice. it is focus. it is the impetus behind all activities. it is the force behind reason. it is also the force behind instinct. attention motivates all. if you can’t get people to pay attention, you can’t do shit.
remember that line from “death of a salesman”:
“attention must be paid to such a person!”
willy lowman’s wife was talking about poor old willy. no one would take his calls anymore. no one would buy his stuff. he could no longer get anyone’s attention. he tried and tried. he used to succeed, but not anymore. it was a tragedy, american style.
until i worked in the industry, i had little conception of the profound force television has on sculpting the daily reality and dominating the attention of most members of the world. if not because they are watching it (the average person watches 8.5 hours a day) then because commerce, politics and culture all ebb and flow based on the sight sound and motion that occurs on the set. nothing is as powerful as video for getting people’s attention on a mass scale.
for the past sixty years businesses have relied on television advertising to sell their products and services. politicians have used it to promote themselves, and their platforms. the tv and movie industries place the lion’s share of their focus on television ads and promotions. it was the best way to gather a large audience, focus their attention and get results. it still is.
as we delve deeper into the age of interactive media, television itself is being redesigned to incorporate the best aspects of the web. there’s this thing now called tv widgets … people who have web-connected tv’s can set up their sets to overlay information of their choosing on top of the set. just like you have rss feeds show up on your netvibes or igoogle page, you can have them show up on your tv set. That is if your set is equipped with the right chip, and is connected to the internet.
the technology is just now making its debut, and at this point and a lot of details have to be worked out regarding how the physical real estate on the tv set will be divvied up. but it’s going to happen. television will become personalized, interactive and non-linear.
once that occurs – whether it’s three years from now or sooner – it’s gonna be even tougher to reach a large crowd and to actually get and hold their attention. economies of scale are shrinking. the sweetspot is becoming harder and harder to find.
not a revelation by any means, i know, but i obsess on it nonetheless. it will affect all aspects of society. i can’t wait to find out how it will look.
i am enamored with hbo’s new original series, “bored to death,” created and produced by jonathan ames. was pleased to learn today that we’ll be getting a second season. there’s so much to talk about here, but basically it’s about men flailing around in the absence of women. the main character, jonathan, played by nerdy dreamboat munchkin jason schwartzman, is pining for the ex who left him due to his meandering lack of focus and proclivity for white whine and weed. he’s a writer whose debut novel won him critical success. but he’s languishing with the writing of the second novel. aided by craigslist advertising, he begins moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective. it’s jonathan’s way to fight boredom and get his mojo back. absurdity ensues. when he’s not sleuthing, jonathan’s activities are centered around his two buddies: his boss George Christopher, magazine editor and party-goer played by the dashingly deviant Ted Danson, and Ray Hueston, his bestie, a Brooklyn comic book artist played by the hilarious bearded yet feminized Zach Galifianaki.
this is a writer’s show. the dialogue is fantastic. the most recent episode had some words that broke through to my noggin:
Claudia Worth: Are you a man or a boy?
Jonathan: Well… what’s the difference?
Claudia Worth: With a man, you feel like you’re being taken, and you like it. And with a boy, you feel like they’re stealing something from you, and you don’t like it.
Claudia was the 16-year-old daughter of a psychologist that Jonathan picked up at a party (assuming she was older). out of the mouths of babes, right? that distinction is right on, and it extends beyond the physical sex act. the difference between being took and being stolen from. when you’re took, you go along with. when you’re stolen from, you are left alone, in a world apart.
A crossroads feeling … BD and AD (Before Dad and After Dad) … summer into fall … good girl into willful woman overtook me yesterday, September 9. We (my company, my department, my honchos and colleagues) hosted a memorial service for Walter Cronkite at Lincoln Center.
All kinds of media types showed up. And most notably, POTUS came. We were surprised he didn’t cancel. After all, he had that huge health care address to deal with later in the evening. Maybe he wanted a shot in the arm … muster up some extra journalistic goodwill. Regardless, I was seated all of 50 rows directly behind him on the on the center left aisle seat. Cool.
Three rows down across the aisle from me was Victor Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation. I did a 6-month internship there in 1998 at the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Victor was creaking along in a seersucker suit, which is how I picture him in my head, always. I remain grateful for that opportunity, though I always felt like a disappointment to that leftie bunch, having given up on the journalistic “good fight” to become corporate flack, writing earning speeches for EVIL BIG MEDIA no less. By the way, had journalism not paid so poorly, had it enabled me to get health insurance and move out of my parents’ house, I might have stuck with it. Instead I took a job as a marketing copywriter and ended up working directly with the top brass. The rest is history.
Right behind Victor was Howard Kurtz, whose writing I have read for decades and took particular interest in while writing my Master’s thesis at journalism school in the summer of 1999. At one point I saw him, all of 15 feet away from me, typing into his Blackberry. His Tweet posted to the feed displayed on my iPhone. Surreal.
The title of my yesteryear thesis: “Taking themselves to task: The rising role of media criticism in the American mainstream press.”It was 70+ page exploration of how the media views and reports on itself. If I recall correctly, my point was that the journalists are individuals, with flaws and strengths … viewpoints and emotions. There is no such thing as “just the facts” or one objective truth so let’s just acknowledge our biases already and get it out of the way.
That was before FOX News became a powerhouse thanks to Election 2000 and its dangling chads. Half the country felt their views were not being represented by the media. All the networks, all the papers seemed to start from the same premises and value systems. They purported to offer a mirror to “reality.” But many citizens felt oppressed and misrepresented by that reflection. Roger Ailes tapped into that discontent, creating a press outlet to cater to that large underserved market claiming, “we report, you decide.”
All around the same time, just as I finished up grad school, Napster was happening, Google was happening. Digital was changing everything. Content was unbound. People were unbound. Back then I couldn’t have imagined that I would go for weeks, months at a time without turning on a radio or picking up a newspaper. I used to read 5 or 6 papers A DAY. Now I just skim my RSS feeds and email newsletters and focus on the items that interest me.
Never could I have imagined ten years ago that I would be sitting in a room with all these guys, plus the (BLACK!) President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the CEO of my company, Barbara Walters, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Charlie Gibson and so many other, listening, typing away on my phone, and pondering yet again what will become of our world of information (and just generally our world).
None of them seem to know. All they seemed to articulate was that something big is gone. That feeling of unified certainty. The reassuring notion that knowledge itself could be known.
One of the coolest parts of the ceremony was when Wynton Marsalis and five members of his sextet played an amazing New Orleans funeral procession song, circling the entire room. They walked across the stage, down the stairs, up the aisle, around the back, down the other aisle, and back up on stage. The sound was incredible. (When I die, get me one of those, please.)
On my way out I ran into my dear friend and mentor, Mary Jane Clark, who helped me get my first internship at CBS in 1996, and my first (short-lived) job in the newsroom in 1997. She is family to me. I have listened to her stories and watched her work over the years. I know that the industry she was so passionate about, that she built her first career on (she is now a best-selling fiction writer) has morphed into something unrecognizable. It must be a very strange thing to behold.
For me, only a decade or so into the game, the beat goes on. The journey in this world of media and information is just beginning. I don’t know where it’s headed either, and I have nothing to lose … no romantic attachments to “the way it was”. While I honor and respect those who made my current adventure possible, ultimately I’ve gotta go my own way. Onward pilgrim! Onward willful woman! The world awaits!