Richard Bailey is editor of PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.
Inspired by a blog post by Journalism student Sophie Dishman, I asked a class of Journalism and PR students to describe their media consumption on a typical day. Collectively, this is the media that matters to a group of students who have grown up in the Age of Google.
Here are some of their favourite sites, apps, channels and services – the media that matters:
Gmail / Hotmail
Spotify / Deezer / Soundcloud
Imgur / YouTube
The class was then asked to reflect on the changes they’ve experienced in how they consume media.
Hannah Kelly-Price thinks we’re too obsessed with an unreal world:
The media is undoubtedly evolving, however it is doing so in a manner that is allowing us to become detached from reality and society. The media is converging with the consumer in a cold yet somehow desirable fashion; people revel in the idea that Facebook introduces another button or Twitter removes its 140 character ban on direct messages. Meanwhile, the minority left in the ‘real’ world become partially ignored by the tyranny of the majority who use social media as a documentation system, adopting the ideology that ‘if it’s not online, it didn’t happen.’ We must, surely, at some point realise that it’s time to put the keyboard down and take oneself outside to indulge in physical and verbal conversation/interaction.
Rebecca Bateson describes her selfie-obsessed media day in narrative form:
“As I was woken with a buzz at one o’clock this morning with the pleasure of a Snapchat from my flatmate I stopped to think how upset my mum would be to think I’m losing out on sleep to send a mere selfie. But my flatmate couldn’t sleep, what else was she meant to do, it had to be documented. I was barely even awake and in my pitch black room I still found myself engaging in an exchange of pics despite my alarm being set for 6:30.
“Our generation is a vain one. Think about it: there is a hugely popular social media platform which revolves solely around taking snaps of ourselves. We don’t even need words anymore. In a culture obsessed with emojis and thumbs up our social skills seem to be reverting back to a primitive time where facial expressions (and occasionally grunts) are used to convey meaning. Could you imagine what Niépce (the creator of the first camera) would have thought had he had a glimpse into the future of selfies?
Although once we were shamed by our parents for taking these currently unnamed ‘selfies’ as a pre-teen on the family camera, I now revel in my ability to take a good pic. Social media has helped increase our self-image, “Yeah I look good today”, “Yeah I’m gonna show off this great outfit”. Whereas once upon a time the camera was only whacked out at Christmas, now a completely original social media platform allows me to show my friends just exactly what I look like mid sleep, eye mask on and everything.”
For Abi Bunce, it’s become a habit, but one we all share:
Admittedly I probably check social media at least every half hour when possible, as sad as it may sound, it has become a habit just to check if there is anything new I haven’t seen. Whether it may be because I am bored or simply want to check social media, it has become a huge part of my life. I may be uploading a post, seeing what my ‘friends’ are up to or even stalking a mutual friends’ friend, it has become the complete norm. Social media 10 years or so ago would have been unheard of. We are the online age which has developed alongside social networking. You can’t help but notice your grandparents scowl when your phone is on the table during dinner, but even their generation has started to become more digitalised. My Grandad is now on Facebook and often comments on photos I am tagged with boys in, and my Grandma now reads her newspaper on her Kindle Fire. It doesn’t matter what you use social networking for, but we are all guilty of it.
Oliver Miller adds:
“I get my news from Twitter and online newspaper sites rather than buying a newspaper. I also get sent alerts from Sky News sent to my phone for breaking news stories that I can easily link to.
“I will check Twitter regularly during the day and it is my main focus when it comes to social networking. It is the only social networking site that I post on despite having accounts on other sites such as Facebook and Instagram. I do use Facebook in order to contact family members that live abroad.
“If wanting to listen to music I will use Spotify or Soundcloud, both free platforms that allow me to stream music to my phone. Occasionally opting for the ‘old fashioned way’ of listening to music by popping on a CD.
“Watching television now means streaming Netflix and binge watching TV shows or films. Standard television channels are rarely used.
“I prefer to read a physical copies of books rather than an ebook on a computer or a kindle
“Sometimes I will listen to the radio while I’m in the car but other than that, it’s a thing of the past.
“I am able to check all of these media outlets while on the move as everything can me linked to my smartphone.
“My media consumption has changed over time and is still likely to change in the future. My first mobile phone could send and receive a text message and also make a phone call. Now, I will use my phone to consume most of, if not all, of my media. Using a social networking sites like Twitter is now the best place to get your news in my opinion. There are events happening across the world at every moment and there is almost always someone involved who will post it on Twitter where is it then broadcast to millions. All of the new sources of media have been made available because of the internet which has changed everyone’s media consumption, allowing them to quickly access what they want when they want it. It will be interesting to see how it will change over the years to come but I have no doubt that it will.”
For Hugo Gerwat:
I feel as though media is evolving all the time, for example with Facebook set to introduce the ‘dislike button’, media is innovating and things like the ‘dislike button’ will completely change how Facebook operates. Also it’s mostly digital now: I own a TV but I don’t have a TV licence, I either watch catch-up TV or Netflix. Streaming replaces the need for multiple devices: you can do all that on a laptop or mobile/tablet. However I do feel that some forms of media have evolved too quickly for me: I don’t use Twitter or Instagram. Social media seems to be a tool to promote your problems and your vanity. They obviously help parts of society and are a great way of linking the world together, but it’s also the catalyst for ignorance and it’s abused by public figures whose influence is damaging society.
Liam Bettinson is a creature of routine:
“I potentially use the apps on my phone in the same order and frequency every day, I probably visit the same websites in the same order too.
“Getting an iPhone two years ago greatly enhanced my media consumption as everything you could possibly need and want to search or use is within arm’s reach.
“Before that I would simply wait to get home from work/school to go onto social networks. News websites was not something I delved into until I developed an interest in Media Studies. I would usually just watch the news on TV if my parents were watching it.
“Now I will visit a newspaper’s website (e.g. Daily Mail) and read an article, making sure that for one second I don’t read too much into the spin or angle to the story. I’ll then search the story in Google to find another paper’s angle and see just how much it varies from the first version, hopefully getting a more rounded take on the event.
“I sometimes wonder how we ever coped without technology, because if someone loses their phone it’s like they’ve lost communication with the rest of the world and are lost, almost silent.
“As the digital age continues, the distinction between ourselves and the media we use blurs, it is slowly becoming a part of us.”
Tessa Urlwin adds an international comparison:
“I grew up in New Zealand and Australia, and the difference between those countries back then and the UK now is amazing. Take television for example, I don’t have the need to pay for a TV licence, as I can access most TV though the catch up players online, and my subscription to Netflix has me more than covered for choice. This type of accessibility was unheard in New Zealand 10 years ago. In fact, Netflix has only just made its way over to NZ and Australia in March……..”
Kate Williams is excited by the potential of instant and personal communications:
“Snapchat enables events to be captured by an individual with the app and broadcasted live to its users ‘stories’ e.g; music awards, live sports matches and the Burberry fashion show and World Peace Day. The advantage behind these platforms, especially very visual media outlets such as Tumblr, is a user can create a new identity by blogging images and offering the world their views whereas years ago this would not been an option.”
Chris Jenkinson has a preference for photo and video sharing sites:
Usually in my down time when I’m not out or in the gym, I browse imgur.com and watch various YouTube videos from people to whom I subscribe. My subscriptions page is an eclectic mix of politics vloggers, video game journalists/vloggers and sports videos/news. I will also very often look at the most viral videos for a laugh.
A lot of the content that I watch on YouTube is in the form of a “Let’s Play”. This is generally in the format of watching someone play a video game and listening to their commentary or general witty banter throughout the video. This is a great way of seeing the latest video games being played and is also very humorous.
In the evenings I watch my guilty pleasure of reality TV, if it’s on, or I will stream my favourite television series and quite often this will turn into a “binge”. Netflix is something that I use very often and it’s very easy to spend many hours watching films or TV series on my laptop before realising that so much time has passed.
Milena Opolska favours Facebook:
“I think that Facebook is a good way of communicating with others because you can send messages and looking at what’s currently happening, this means you can keep in touch and find your friends from around the world. You share your thoughts, favourite movies and books what used to be personal.”
For Belin Guner, what’s new is the new normal:
Nowadays, media is everywhere. I can’t even imagine myself without going online for a whole full day. It just doesn’t feel right when I don’t use any of the media tools, it feels like I’m not complete because the internet is now an important part of our lives. Social media has spread all over the world which help us to get to know new people, and learn information about our interest more easily without wasting more time than it used to be.
Amy Wyllie has been on a journey from Bebo to Facebook to Snapchat.
“Since I started using social media, my consumption habits and types of sites I use has changed dramatically. When I was 13 I was using sites like Bebo where you could use any name, have a whole ‘about me’ section with topics, arrange your top friends, have a customised background, a tagline, a comment wall where you could ‘give love’ to people, make quizzes for your friends to take about how well they know you etc. and I’d spend every evening on MSN messenger talking to my friends and ‘nudging’ them when they didn’t respond.
“I remember when people in my school started to use Facebook, most of us had no interest and thought it was plain and boring because you had to use your real name, not some cutesy version of it and you couldn’t customise your background or order your friends, things which seemed very important back then (how could so and so know I was mad at them if I had no top friends list to take them off of?!) However in time, that kind of thing became less important so my friends and I migrated over to Facebook and eventually Bebo became a barren waste land.
“While I now use the mainstream site Facebook, my posting habits have changed over time. I only really post these days when I want to share news, I mean my last post on Facebook was when I was accepted into University back in February; it’s only the big news that is worthy enough of a post from me (and always gets at least 50 likes). So I guess I’m hypocritical in looking at Facebook to check up on others’ lives when I don’t really give much away on mine. Reflecting on how my consumption has changed, I have noticed that all the sites I once deemed ‘ridiculous’ and ‘stupid’, are now huge parts of my morning media fix.
“I thought Snapchat was stupid when it came out because I didn’t see why you need to share a photo or 10 second clip of your life to others when you could enjoy it in the moment, but I so much enjoyed watching other people’s, I started it myself too and am slightly embarrassed at how judgemental I was to start with. Same with Instagram. Pinterest has always appealed to me though, I’m passionate about ideas and creativity so having a platform to make virtual pin boards is pretty much heaven for me (and made my evenings a lot more fun.)”
For Terence Lim, social media is a matter of life and death:
I can undoubtedly say that without media I could be dying of boredom when I am alone. It is now a habit that I cannot break. I look at media whether if its news feed or my friend’s posts on Facebook at the dinner table or with my friends. Especially at night before I sleep, I definitely have to look at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The online world has changed me in good and bad ways.
Natalia Szczepanek asks whatsapp with all this snapchat?
“No matter how horribly addicted to social media I seem after you’ve read the above paragraph, I feel like I’m still one of the people not overusing the media as badly as some people do. As a journalism and public relations student I am trying to emphasize my existence in the social media world. And yes, I am trying to keep up to date with all the technology changing, social media evolving and the whole lot of new apps being created. Therefore my media consumption is evolving. It is mostly the result of the need rather than the desire for it. I still can’t force myself to use snapchat…
“Our media consumption is evolving. It’s evolving with the speed of the light. 6 years ago all I had was an account on Facebook (and it was mainly to play those Facebook games), my TV, my radio and newspapers. Today I have a whole list of accounts on websites that allow me doing exactly the same thing and consuming exactly the same information, but without my TV and without my radio. No matter where I am, who with I am and what time of the day we are using media. Right now, all of us in this classroom must look like a bunch of nerds!”
Estela Shkreli confesses to an addiction to her phone:
Ofcom’s 2015 report in to adult media use and attitudes states that the time that we spend on online has doubled since 2005. On average we spend more than 20 hours a week online, (probably checking how many likes our newest ‘selfie’ got on Instagram or if our followers on twitter have increased in the last half hour after that super funny tweet).
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I am weak and have too succumbed to the demands of technology. I’m on my phone at least every half hour checking the latest updates, whether that be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. (Mainly snapchat – I love a good selfie). With the never ending social growth it’s become effortless to be in the know; about everything, literally. I sometimes wake up at 3am to go to the loo and, yeah you guessed it, my phone comes with me because someone must have updated something on Facebook that I just couldn’t possibly wait until the morning to see. Maybe that’s why I drop my phone in the toilet so much?
Richard Bailey is editor of PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.