Are you talking WITH me?

There's something going on with the current state of interactivity of the media. More people are blogging, uploading video, and generally active online than ever before. Accessibility is a hot button issue, user-generated content is making the Silicon Valley bubble reinflate, and space online has become just as important to some people as their physical space in everyday life.

Check out the message boards of any of your local papers or check social media websites and you'll find that people everywhere are sounding off and about anything and everything. Most times you don't even have to ask for their opinion. They just give it.

Even the producers of reality shows are recognizing that people must have to be able to affect - or feel as if they affect - the outcome of another person's life. Push 4 to vote for your American Idol contestant.

These days, everybody is an expert. Or are they?

We aren't the first to point out the awesome power and potential of the fact that almost anyone has the ability to have a blog or a website. (Of course we recognize that there are certain skill and resource boundaries that prevent this from being a reality for all people, but are just saying IN THEORY everyone can.) This, in turn, means that anyone with a camera - again those with the resources - can upload a video to YouTube and sound off about their political views, their religious stance, or their day.

We get it. And most times, we love it. What we are struggling with lately is the "interaction" component of social media. In his January 2 column, "Have Something to Say, I Don't Care," LA Times writer Joel Stein told us he was fed up with the interactivity.
"Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power. If Martin Luther put his 95 Theses on the wall and then all the townsfolk sent him their comments, and he had to write back to all of them and clarify what he meant, some of the theses would have gotten all watered down and there never would have been a Diet of Worms. And then, for the rest of history, elementary school students learning about the Reformation would have nothing to make fun of. You can see how dangerous this all is."
Of course, Joel Stein is no Martin Luther and we're not all for treatises "tak[ing] on their own power", but that's not the point. While Stein's column is clearly tongue-in-cheek, it's also a very real statement about the current attitude about user-generated content and public opinion.

We personally know more than one blogger who has had to turn off commenting on their site and or posts because it's caused such personally emotional and psychological damage. Is that just the price we pay for putting our art and our perspectives out into the world? We think not.

Yet, we also support the ability for readers to interact with the medium. It was one of the reasons to start this space to begin with. We're just trying to figure out the healthiest and most productive way to interact from our keyboards. To figure out whether there is any way for this to start feeling more like a dialogue (or a polylogue?) and less like shouting from the mountaintops (or some days, into the valleys) is a constant conversation and struggle for us.

But at the end of our days, the ladies of HollaBackBoston still walk the streets of our city, interact with friends and allies, and when we can, meet in person. MySpace friends don't equal activism, nor is commenting on blogs all day going to get us very far. But in order to reach a large audience and potentially have a significant impact, we embrace the power of the Internet and the communication it allows. We're just still working out the boundaries and details on our end, too.

Written by Hilary Allen & Brittany Shoot. Protected by Creative Commons 2.5

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home