21st century- When couch potatoes strike back!


What do you see? You’re probably thinking the stresses of uni have finally turned myself cuckoo. You are actually fifty percent correct, but what I see is infact a fantastic representation of what we actually were as an audience in the past. We were silent and static to what we were consuming. You might even think I would say we were unempowered, but personally I don’t think so. We might have been empowered by what we consumed but simply didn’t have the access to express our opinions to the masses. Could we participate in the messages put out to the masses? No. We were simply helpless couch potatoes. In this day and age with newly emerged media platforms such as Facebook, Soundcloud and Smartphones, ‘The people formally known as the audience” (Jay Rosen) have to now understand the opportunities plus power of not only being a consumer but a prosumer.

Being a Gen-y boy, the concept of expressing my views and opinions via certain platforms such as Facebook seems very normal to me. However, generations before us have never really treaded in this territory. Clay Shirky, obviously from an older generation quotes “the audience can talk back and that’s a little freaky”. Now this makes me feel so young. He comes from a time when the media was monologic (couch potato era). If Jane Doe down the street was outraged with a News article published, Jane Doe simply cannot whip out her Iphone 5 and Vlog her disgust on YouTube, hopefully prompting a public conversation about the issue. Jane Doe could possibly write a letter of outrage to the newspaper which could well…do nothing much at all. Even if the letter was publicized it would have to go through a Gatekeeper which is the total fun police. My dear Jane was just another helpless couch potato. People to this day are still being halted by the traditional media methods such as gatekeeping but due to convergent platforms can now produce themselves (Amanda Hocking self published her booked through Amazon after being rejected by publishers.)

Participation in media has become wild as well as encouraged. It’s a major positive in some respects such as the ability to edit on Wikipedia and retweet edited posts on Twitter, but what really stood out to me most was the encouragement to give feedback. “Sharing, commenting and liking” are now regular features to most online news articles, videos etc. The very well known Vlogger Natalie Tran specifically asks for comments and then even includes them in her videos which therefore initiates conversation! They want your voices to be heard! But because participation is so easy, literally anyone can create a message to reach a global audience, even if it is flawed!  “It was easier to spread frightening rumors than accurate figures, since there were none available” (Janey Gordon, The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere). I agree entirely as people start to panic if they do not have the information they desire. They could start to Tweet, Facebook and blog rumors and gossip which could cause major problems such as censorship, banning and even including political.

Even though that our place as the audience has positives and negatives we are getting our voices heard. All former couch potatoes get your tweets flowing!

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