No one will deny The Internet is most useful when it serves as a massive archive of everything everybody has ever published online. This allows for comparisons to be done and in this case Andrew Sullivan’s one-eighty change of mind towards media consumption in contemporary society.
Back in 2008 he published a lengthy piece online, commenting his own fascination in blogging and how it was revolutionary in what it provided for journalists. An open source platform where one can express himself in a more personal matter than what print provides – no editorial rules to abide, instant publication and feedback. Sullivan himself said:
Blogging is to writing is what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.
This analysis represents in essence the way of what blogging is meant to give its writer – a creative outlet to pour his thoughts. Somewhere you can be part of a tight-knit community, have a following, receive positive or negative comments – all this was a haven for most journalists at the time of publication.
Sullivan praised blogging vastly but what is most interesting is his next article on the subject which followed in September 2016. This recent work of his is heavily impacted by the way people nowadays are infatuated with news and online social activities.
I had discovered in my blogging years, the family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in Turkle’s formulation, “alone together.” You are where your attention is.
A big argument Sullivan makes is that people have grown less patient, this being due to the introduction of smartphones (and later on apps) to the mainstream of society. He claims, quite rightly, that after such devices found their way into people’s lives they have been unable to properly connect with the real world. Constantly distracted by trends, events, apps, notifications people forget to look up and are a mere physical presence in whichever room they are in.
Having experienced this first hand we understand Sullivan’s struggle, but what really made him change his mind in these 8 years?
By comparing the two articles together I understand that he is talking about two different things that stem from the same source – creative outlet and an overwhelming amount of attention-seeking applications. Both, though, do stem from the same core, that is the basic necessity to be part of a community.As we previously said blogging provides a massive amount of works you can link to, thus creating relationships and ramping up the traffic. The other side is whole different deal – having too much to keep up with, the urgency to check the news.
As the social animals we are as people one cannot bear to be socially omitted. This is what urges us, on a subconscious level, to pursue the social apps and await each and other notification. As for news consumption, the multi-platform world has provided media with so many ways they can approach a person, that it does become overwhelming. Filtering your news flow is a good approach to the subject. Though it may help, the most rational way to approach the issue discussed the aforementioned problem is to keep yourself aware of what media you consume and why you consume it.