On a morning errand, I had NPR on and heard a story about the fragmentation of the media and how it fragments culture. Since HX was founded on examining the Echo Chamber, of how we self-select our own media, communities, and world in order to avoid dissonance, it was very interesting:
Over the past decade, the number of television channels has more than doubled. There’s Lifetime for women, Spike for men, the Syfy channel, Comedy Central, yadda yadda yadda.
Add on YouTube and Facebook, Twitter and FunnyOrDie, and there’s just a lot more stuff to keep track of than there was in the days when there were three main TV networks.
For better or worse, the likelihood of another Seinfeld gets smaller with each new source of content. And that, alongside similarly fragmenting landscapes in news, politics and culture, has social scientists worried.
“In history, as far as we can tell, there have never been cultures or societies in which there weren’t a very large set of shared ideas — norms, values, stories” and so on, says [Stanford University communications professor Clifford] Nass. “We’ve just never seen that before.”Will “Get What You Want” Lead to a Culture Gap, NPR 12/29/2009
One social scientist in the NPR segment comments:
“For better or for worse, when we did have 60 million people watching any one networks’ nightly news program, that meant that 60 million people had to receive the same information and make up their minds about it and be in dialogue with one another about it.”
I know I tend to lean towards the negative aspects of the echo-chamber, but I’m glad for the loss of monoculture. Being dictated one medium or message is dead…good riddance. Such monopolies are dangerous and, even if they have journalistic integrity, are not helpful in an increasingly suspicious society.
We will never go back. Instead we will choose what we watch and learn and experience. There’s hope for this brave new world here:
As the monoculture fragments, social-media platforms and other wired and unwired communities are creating new kinds of connections — connections that are building bridges between people in ways that watching Seinfeld never could.
Yes, they are building bridges and in those connective moments, one wonders where the Church (in its diverse forms) will fit in. The truth I believe is that the Church is adaptive and multi-faceted. Some variations will die, some traditions will not survive…maybe even traditions we find meaning in. But the Church will continue, and it’s our happy task to continue to seek out what role we play in society.
So for 2010, be assured that HX will continue to expose the dying archetypes of Church as bad.hacks, and will continue to examine how society’s shifts will create niche opportunities for the Church…and plenty of Star Wars will be had.
Welcome to our brave new fragmented world. May the fragments in your life be put together in a coherant whole that brings meaning to your life.