And "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" may very well been the mantra for black rights and the underground factions yearning to be heard from the voices of our past, our parents past and they before them. But today NOTHING could be further from the truth.
I was hit with sound clarity in a discussion over the weekend that came to a crystal-clear resolution for me is that the United States of America is going to be in an never-ending conflict with factors beyond our control due to the advancement of social media, it's citizen journalism and the emotional weaknesses of its people. If you have a cell phone you have the power to enact great emotional upheaval. And dependent upon your view of chaos math, that content could even go as far as starting a war. And this does not come on a soapbox claiming innocence of this stance, I will outline thoroughly that I'm as/if not more guilty than you all.
Glorified interstitials prior to movies showed glowing reviews of conquering and soon-to-come positive outcomes. The images and media that came from that time were often staged, censored and edited husks with only a fractionalized percentage of truth. As it has been since there was such things as 'enemies,' the number one way you would spy on your advesarie was to read their media, listen, learn and report.
Historically, the Vietnam war was the first fully televised war and what came from that was a great many things. First was a truly unromantic vision of the war. And even though it was still heavily edited and censored, we were faced with five to ten minutes at the end of newscast with a dose of pure reality. It wasn't storming strongholds and gathering the enemy up for transport to lavish movie-like prison camps. It was dirty, confusing, mind-numbing and endlessly emotionally draining. What are men and women came home to is a jaded shell of the nation that they went to protect. They were spit on, often unemployable and generally outcasts. It was appalling.
Since such time, it's been the mantra of news media to dig and report the perceived 'whole truth' of the war(s) as they happen. We're constantly bombarded with content, related and unrelated to wars. Weapons of mass destruction, 9/11, and cell phone streams of night visions goggles. Every conceivable conspiracy theory, news broadcast, mention, opinion and viewpoint is debated, vetoed, retorted upon and subjected to criticism of all kinds in the name of the first amendment and "our right to bitch." And while I'll be the first to tell you that I've leaned on the first amendment I can also say I don't abuse it.
The future is as bright and as dark as it has ever been. I stand on the mantra that "it is the best of times and the worst of times at any given moment in time." With that being said, we are a world of media saturation. And the bi-product of that media is emotion, and the bi-product of emotion is response in some form. This is the core kernel of this post:
User Generate Content (UGC) + Social Media Delivery Tools + Emotional Response = Endless Future Wars
So how did I jump to the equation so dramatically? It's simple, really - every single one of us with a phone that can take a photo, record audio and or shoot video is a machine built for UGC. CNN.com has "iReport" - this is an outpost cry for citizen journalism at its very finest.
"iReport invites you to take part in the news with CNN. Your voice, together with other iReporters, can help shape what CNN covers and how.
At CNN we believe that looking at the news from different angles gives us a deeper understanding of what's going on. We also know that the world is an amazing place filled with interesting people doing fascinating things that don't always make the news."
If this had sub-titles it would say "We can't be everywhere, give us insane shit to post so we can get create buzz and sell more advertising." We must understand that all that we create and put online is content, good, bad and the ugly. The sad truth is that the ugly is was causes response:
- Civil/political unrest
- Physical/emotional altercations
- Human/environmental atrocities
- Call-to-action campaigns
- Economic & fiscal hardship
- Sexual/religious persecution
This is a fraction of what you digest every second you read, listen or watch the news, listen to the radio or read "topical" content. You say 'yes but there's so much good that's out too!' I agree, but goodness does not require response, it's like a battery recharger or a warm summer day, you enjoy it and rarely pass it along. Nothing would be better than if we societally passed along and made viral beauty and kind acts, it just doesn't happen, we're wired to seek misery. Out of this content will come the outcry for response.
Women and children are being murdered - you see it - you call for action - we respond - we go to war. Trees are being clear-cut in rain forests - now that you see it - you call for action - we respond - we raise taxes (or cut other needed programs) to fund efforts. When it was 'out of sight, out of mind' you had no internal need for action. Had you lived in Dallas with no TV the images of 9/11 would never had ignited patriotism and adopted a new enemy simultaneously. But it did happen, does effect us and will indefinitely from here on out.
This even sadder turn of the coin to this tale is that we're anesthetized to this. We're growing more and more numb to this saturation of negativity. And while I hope that's not the answer – I really do. I'm not sure what the positive net of this UGC and constant stream of content will be short of vast censorship and 1984 - big brother all over again to 'keep the peace.'
This is not to say I don't want a better world. A peaceful world. It's funny how I'm neck deep in a social media world where we can do so much good with the mediums at hand and yet we allow ourselves to be cannibalized by what (we think) we cannot control.
I put it to us all in this industry and anyone with a cell phone -- use your power for good. We need a new directive. A change in perception of what is real content, real media, real storytelling. A new manifesto. Yes the revolution will be televised, YouTubed, tweeted, Facebooked, Quora'd, Linkedin, blogged, podcasted and printed. But I want to carry a new flag, one with rainbows, unicorns, LOL cats and stars. We need to start something. Something that will carry us, and our next generations into a space that isn't lead by the noise out of fear and the threat that it's "to big to control" ergo, it's not worth trying to fight it. This readily accepted viewpoint with be the death of this planet should that be the case.
"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." ~ Anne Frank
Please spread this post. I want real feedback from you all. I know it's hard to except we've created much of our own problems but we can right the ship. What would you do to start? What sites, businesses, brands and groups have you seen that are driven to push inspirational content? Thanks for reading.