Media Apocalypse: Is Constant Consumption Healthy?

The United Kingdom has historically used the concept of media to communicate to the masses- apparently the oldest surviving English newspaper started in 1690 in Worcester. But after centuries of evolution is technology pushing us towards a media apocalypse?

I am going to take this blog post to weave some concerns over the health of the media industry as it adapts to technology advances. In particular how the unchartered and unprecedented volume of media being produced is a negative; in a time when maybe people need to time to think and understand.

In no way am I suggesting that we should not have freedom of press, it is a pillar of a liberal community. However- with advances in technology and varying forms of media- do we need to take a step back and consider the terms in which we consume such?

Take for example the very contrasting environments of the 1975 referendum to join the European Union and the 2016 referendum to leave or remain. In 1975 technology was very much new. Media was delivered through the printed press, cinema and television amongst others. With the culture being around less is more, and news delivered in a structured and routine manner.

Whereas, in 2016 media looks vastly different with a constant supply through varying devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In America pre 2006 less than 25% of the internet users had at least one social media account that has rocketed to over 75%. In relating this to sport the Olympics is a great marker for showing technology advances, for example, at Rio there is both an impact on the quality and consumption of the sport. Right now you can track the Olympic Torch via GPS and the Google News Lab!

My concerns are around the consequences of this constant media for individual and community wellbeing?

On the one hand it is fantastic that the media is adapting to technology and advancing our ability to ‘know’. However, is this healthy? Should there be better tracks on credibility, rigour of the evolving forms of media? Do people need time to digest news rather than living it in real time?

The clearest example to illustrate this was the 2016 referendum where at the immediate moment the results came in the media was jumping for answers from politicians. The response and reaction was immediate. For such a drastic moment should there have been more reflection and responsible use of media? Not at 6am the day of the result!

People within academia and the media are considering this, which I think is very necessary. The Innovation Report leaked from the New York Times in 2014 is a great example of such. But, I definitely think there needs to be more ethical debate to the role of the media in a digital age and how it can contribute to our communities and society beyond producing constant information.

It is a risk currently that we are being overloaded with media that could induce indifference or stress. It is unprecedented to be living in a time of such instant access and liveable media. My advice for individuals would be to switch off and disengage for a decent amount of time from media (including social!). Give your mind time to think and understand not simply consume. Otherwise drain, chaos and exhaustion that I experienced around the referendum will continue.



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