Bursting bubbles

I’ve never been a fan of utopian science-fiction. Maybe it’s because reality usually turns out to be worse, more complex and therefore disappointing (yes, I am a sad person). A classic example: utopian science-fiction writers of the past imagined that we’d be using flying cars by now. Well, we still use “ground cars” on fossil fuels. And flying cars would probably be dangerous, unpractical or polluting.

I got a similar feeling of discontent reading this article [1] about media convergence by Henry Jenkins (2004). In this article, he makes some very optimistic predictions about media consumers of a new, digital era. According to Jenkins, these consumers are resistant, “fighting for the right […] to control the flow of media in their lives.” [2] They are active and take media “into their own hands”. [3]

Jenkins must be crying by now. The average media consumer in 2017 is comfortably stuck in his filter bubble, will only read what’s for free or won’t look much further than his Facebook newsfeed. The only way he takes control of the media in his life, is by performing the clicks that feed the algorithms of his echo chamber. The consumer becomes lazy and uncreative.  This is why Bart Delwig, describing himself as “the boy in the (filter) bubble” [4], wants to quit social media. You can read it in the post [5] he wrote for Adformatie.

There is another side of the coin, though. Delwig also describes in his post how he, as a content producer, gets feedback from consumers through social media. “Thanks to [this feedback] you can improve yourself continuously,” [6] he says. I guess that, after all, Jenkins wasn’t completely wrong. Some consumers do seek to actively participate. So yeah… let’s not burst the utopian bubbles yet. For now, they can simply co-exist with filter bubbles.

 

[1] Jenkins, Henry. “The cultural logic of media convergence.” International journal of cultural studies 7.1 (2004): 33-43.

[2] Ibid., pp. 37

[3] Ibid., pp. 38

[4] Delwig, Bart. “Ik stop met social.” Adformatie, 25 september 2017, http://www.adformatie.nl/blog/ik-stop-met-social (accessed 2 October 2017).

[5] Ibid.

 

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