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The new media The new media
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-22 08:28:24
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When we converse, we tend to use status symbols. Some of those status symbols can place us on top or at the bottom of the hierarchy. I'm richer than you. You're richer than me. I own a better car than you. You have a bigger house than mine. That kind of thing.  

And that's why people like to discuss the weather. Boys like to discuss sports and politics, girls like to discuss fashion and cooking.

Then you have some, mostly boys, who like to show that they know more about current events than the average person, and who claim to know the truth.

mme01_400Sports and politics

This is where things get a little unfair. Unfortunately, it's often the lower-middle-class or working class that likes to discuss sports and politics.

The rich guys will discuss their famous sports stars and politician friends, but the rich guys often have no idea which sports team is winning or which politician got elected.

But among the lower-middle-class, the tendency tends to be egalitarianism, or attempts at egalitarianism within the labor community.

That is people in the working class will tend to refuse to discuss their jobs or private lives (often modest or chaotic jobs and private lives) and will discuss how their sports teams and politicians are fairing.

Now here's the problem with the media in the last 20 years. You have working class people reading the papers so they can chat with their working class peers.

Technically, the media should have given these working class folks enough material to chitchat for the few hours they spend bonding over beer after work.

Now over the last 20 years you have the media starting to employ people from upper class backgrounds, or comfortable middle class backgrounds. Those guys indeed know how to write and tell a good story, but they do not know how to write stories in ways that could fuel the after-shift pub male chitchat.

Sports commentators are now handsome and pretty boys who looked nice on camera or at the news desk, but could not comment on sports with the kind of enthusiasm the blue collar crowd needs. Political commentators are handsome young men and women who had visibly never spent a night out at a bar chatting ceaselessly about politics.

Actually, some of those news and media commentators are actually a bit snobbish for my taste. In my opinion, the media has been harsh with the blue collar crowd which tended to be their most faithful and loyal readers.

Does this mean that rich people don't read or watch the news? No. But rich people tend to spend less time reading the news and consuming media. And rich people often focus on news they can use on the job, as opposed to news they can discuss at the pub.

So in the old days rich people read magazines, and working class people read the papers. Now they all read their Facebook feeds, which is a potpourri of offensive news, junk news, fake news, strange news and interesting news.

Fashion and food

Fashion and food news, as in cookbooks, magazines or TV programs, used to be a thing for housewives.

First major social change: 20 years ago, young girls did not have access to food and fashion magazines. At best, they would subscribe to teenager magazines that would have an article or two about food or fashion.

But nothing like today's deluge or recipes and fashion articles. If you Google Image search a few celebrities, especially female celebrities, you're going to find thousands of pictures of them, and each picture will see that celebrity wearing a different outfit.

In my middle school days, most girls would probably own a dozen outfits and those were the outfits they came to school wearing all year. And most guys and girls only owned a single coat, and one or two pairs of shoes.

In this deluge of food and fashion articles on Facebook and Instagram feeds, you have kids with thousands of pictures, and they'll be wearing a different outfit on each picture.

And these kids (and adults) need to eat something different every day, something new every day, otherwise they'd rather starve.

Conspiracy theories

In the old days, you perhaps had to read some obscure book to get your hands on a conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy theories existed, have always existed, and tend to become popular in times of economic recessions or uncertainty. They are also popular among people with high debt rates, desperate people, or the unemployed. In sum, they tend to be popular among people who need an excuse to explain what puts them in that tough situation.

So when you're unemployed, or when you're about to lose your job, or when the company you own is about to go bankrupt, you tend to start gaining interest in conspiracy theories. Some become obsessed with religion, others with plots by a certain group (usually the Jews, sometimes the corporations, sometimes the Rothschild family, sometimes the banks, sometimes all of these mentioned) to dominate the world.

Those conspiracy theories pop up on Facebook and Instagram feeds, along with Twitter feeds, when they used to be confined to people (usually students) who looked for those books at the shady corners of bookstores.

Conclusion

-First, there is a confusion of sorts between newspapers and magazines, between blue collar news and white collar news.

-This confusion of genres leads to offensive content both to blue collar and white collar media consumers.

-Fashion and food media, once confined to responsible mothers who looked for items to feed and clothe their children, are now about getting you to own huge wardrobes and eat different, new meals every day.

-Conspiracy theories, once a favorite topic among university students who liked to visit the “forbidden” section of the library, are now widely available online, and are popular among those who have trouble putting food on their plates.

Solutions?

Media outlets need to differentiate between “news material” and “magazine material.” News is for generalists (i.e. the blue collar crowd) when specialized articles are for the specialized white collar crowd. And of course academic articles are for those in academia.

If I were a parent, I'd be worried about my child looking at those thousands of pictures of food and outfits. I'd try to find a way to limit that kind of media consumption.

Conspiracy theories tend to be for social outcasts or people who have huge financial problems (often through no fault other than their own) and who try to put the blame of their financial mismanagement on the government, the intel services, or some obscure force.


   
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