It is not untrue to say that the new millennium has been all about sweeping trends, millennials making it big in the corporate world as well as an upsurge of radicalized thought and mass socio-political awareness through the rise of digital media. Social predispositions of individuals and communities online and off have taken the world by a storm, instigating engagement, creating unique parasocial interactions and most important of all personalising collectively cooperative actions.
Connectivity is not just about bits and bytes anymore, that story saw its end some ten years ago or even more! Now it is about the lucid flow of data and information from point A to B, C and so forth. It is about the three C’s of convergence – computing, content and communication. The Internet was most certainly the missing link needed to piece together visibly divergent tools and applications: technology, print and electronic (read: traditional) medias. As a consequence, this catalyzing element resulted in blurring boundaries and creating a highly dynamic territory – empowered and perhaps more democratic than the physical one in which we live. Never before has the intangible world been so powerful as it is now.
Yes the World Wide Web is all about engagement: an image at a high profile, celebrity event transmitted all over the world through various media channels, creating an impact with just 140 characters in blogsphere, or activating mass movements via social platforms – all are most definitely about collective intelligence and participatory culture.
According to eminent American media scholar Henry Jenkins: “Right now, convergence culture is getting defined top-down by decisions being made in corporate boardrooms and bottom-up by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms. It is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want…. This circulation of media content – across different media systems, competing media economies, and national borders – depends heavily on the active participation of the consumer. In this emerging media system, what might traditionally be understood as media producers and consumers are transformed into participants who are expected to interact with each other according to a new set of rules which none of us fully understands.”
Historically speaking, political evolutionary processes that took years or even eons to achieve are now swiftly realized thanks to cooperation between these diverse applications and digital mediums as well as individual modes of virtual expression.
Ironically, the more vocal and engaging you are in the intangible world, the more persuasively effective you are poised to become in reality. Naysayers may opine that excessive use of new media ‘tools’ such as the obsessive selfie reinforces body image disorders etc., but the fact of the matter is that its poignancy, authenticity as well as individuality perpetuates impact globally, and in fact attempts to erode long established social, political and gender tyrannies.
Image Credit: Free Digital Photos