This is my review of my media log, as assigned by Professor Hays on Day 1 of this course.
The exercise of tracking and logging personal media interaction and consumption habits was difficult, more difficult than I expected, mostly because of the ubiquitous presence of media in so many different forms in so many areas of our lives – there is not a sphere of life that is NOT touched by media: home life, work life, family time, exercise time, recreational pursuits – some form of media is THERE. The one exception, which I was hyperconsciously aware of this semester, was when our family went for a walk along the river shore – just a walk, ambling along the edge of the water, no cameras, no phones, no music – only conversation and each others’ company. It was memorable because it was unique.
There was too much to record and I didn’t know HOW to keep track of all of my media activities in a way that would make sense or that was doable. However, I am satisfied that what I ended up doing, though less detailed than I would have liked, was doable in the context of time and my daily work and home life and responsibilities.
The image that encapsulates what keeping this log has been like is the one introduced very early on in class, that of Arjun Appadurai’s Mediascapes and his concept of “strips of reality.” Layers on layers on layers of bits and pieces, but with no context, no background, the resulting image is a fractured version of the person doing the seeing and consuming. This is one of the questions that has been ever present in mind since signing up for this class: what does my media interaction say about me to anyone who might be witness to it?
There are the passive and active interactions with media. Even though observation of both would be inadequate to give a REAL sense of what most people are like, the tru-er version of a person, in this case me, is probably more apparent in the active interactions than the former. By active interaction I mean engagement with the media that involves sharing, posting, commenting, telling, writing, acting on something in response to the item that crossed my path, “item” being the media bit. Through observation of the passive interactions (read/hear/see something), how can that give any semblance of an accurate reflection of what a person is really like, other than it passed their radar?
We can make assumptions that if a person re-posts items about a vampire show, she must loooooove Twilight and be goth, or that if she tweeted something from the Bible she must be a very religious person and form our opinion about someone based on a very very narrow view of their expressed interest. That being said, there certainly are people who are very public about their business/professional lives and that to one extent, their presence and interactions freely knowable on the web and in media do present a version of their “real” self, of what they are really like, or what they really like to do. Alexander Samuel, recently appointed Director of Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, who I discovered just this past month, is an example of such a life; her writing on her blog, tweets, and publicly available other streams are watch-worthy in their openness of her thoughts and activities, as she shared here about her excitement in trying out Path, yet another social media platform: “As someone who blogs or tweets just about anything that is less personal than the above, I was excited about finally unleashing my remaining .0003% of undocumented moments onto the Internet.”
Though I have become open to the idea of having a life online, and am ok with putting my thoughts and words “out there,” this media log being another small piece in that public extension, I still marvel at people who’ve taken that much of a further step in blurring public and private. For now, though, l am comfortable with my level of social engagement and web presence even if I have concluded that “strips” is all people can make of each other without moving things to face-to-face realtime interaction.