Connected through discourse: Individualised media-habits and an oblivious sense of belonging.

I absorb media every day, in a variety of forms, but mainly on my phone. Ten years ago, I did not have a ‘smart-phone’ and the ways in which I accessed my various media texts were vastly different. This report will explore the ways in which my media habits engage me with the rest of the world and how my media behaviours relate to broader publics, flows and contra-flows.

I use a mobile phone for most of my media-usage. I prefer this device because it is lightweight, easy to use and can be transported to most places, if I have access to a wireless internet connection. I can send and receive email, watch news and videos online, listen to music and access my various social media accounts. I am extremely fortunate to live in Australia, which gives me access to the latest advancements in technology to meet the needs of my new love of media, and the ways in which I interact with it. Whether it is listening to music or watching the news online, which is what I do every day, it is common-place for companies to constantly evolve with the times to effectively interact with people like me: their target audience (Turrow, 2011).

Digital convergence has also allowed me to simplify the way in which I consume media, and the ways that media companies can produce content for people like me, in a way that is easily understood and accessible.  The state-run media sector, as well as international media organisations and global media giants such as Bertelsmann and News Corporation can reach multi-national audiences by evolving with technological innovations, and the constantly changing ways that consumers interact with content. All flows, whether dominant, geo-cultural or state run, use media convergence in a similar way across numerous media platforms to support this common goal. (Thussu, 2010)

The information that I receive both online on websites, or even on television, provides a dominant flow, linking me to the rest of the world from my own home. Transnational companies, especially those from the dominant Western influences of the United States have a strong regional existence, but can reach a much broader international audience through multi-media platforms such as you-tube, and cable networks.  (Thussu, 2010)

Media flows are intricate due to the changing ways that media can be distributed. This involves a need for media deregulation and a more flexible body to enable transnational enterprise within countries with limited technological capabilities, to provide their constituents with greater access the content they want. (Thussu, 2010)

A good example of my experience with geo-cultural flows involved spending one month in the Czech Republic earlier this year. I had to change the way in which I could access media. I used international roaming to access the Internet from my mobile device, and was shocked to find that most parts of the country still operated under a 2G or 3G network. For this reason, it made it hard to access media online from outside my residence, nor was I able to easily make telephone calls due to such poor reception.  This made me realise that for locals, they would not feel as inconvenienced as I would have been, because they have probably never experienced fast download speeds on a mobile phone like other westernised nations. 90% of people in the Czech Republic use the Internet, and if the government were to approve the commercial investor interests of neighbouring countries, they will be able to access faster internet connections like other parts of Europe. (JobSpin.Cz, 2017)

Although the Czech Republic is ranked in the top 10 European nations for Internet speeds, it is the previously government owned Czech Telecom that was slowing the dispersion of broadband Internet to their customers. (Taylor, 2012) Until this extension to faster Internet occurs, it will continue to cause difficulties with the flows of state-run media, whose primary aim is to target local populations by producing content available in a variety of platforms. (Thussu, 2010) My own experiences overseas can be interpreted as a “public amongst strangers” as collectively, the way in which I could or could not access media was like many other people within the same geographical location, even though we were oblivious to each other’s existence. (Warner, 2002)

My use of a university email service provider instantly provides me with both an indirect and unconscious sense of belonging with potentially thousands of other people; solely on the fact that we use the same product. It also provides the notion of ‘totality’ as our group’s sole relatable purpose at any one time. It is the group association to a student body, which has ultimately brought us together (Warner, 2002). I am obviously not going to meet every student that attends my university, but for the sole purpose of gaining our various tertiary degrees, we come together for a common purpose.

Back on the topic of media consumption; the way in which market research is used by media platforms to predict what the consumer wants, is one way of how media distribution causes an implied ‘self-organisation’ of the public ideal (Warner, 2002). However, unbeknown to each other, millions of people share the same interests, and ‘targeted advertising’ based on individual common interests is also based on how certain media texts trend online.

 

Algorithms put in place on social media platforms help to provide me with entertaining content that social media platforms such as Facebook ‘thinks’ I will like, based on what other people from my location also enjoy. It also attempts to predict my language based on my current geographical location, which was evident during my time in Europe when my global positioning system (GPS) was turned on. An example of targeted marketing is Facebook advertisements, or Google pages that are presented in the language of the country I was in. It had no appeal to me, but was an assumed ‘belonging’ via association. Regardless of the language barrier; my sole existence of being in that same country, gave me that common public in practice to ‘appear as the public’ (Warner, 2002).

I also form part of a ‘public’ when I watch television programs on the ‘ABC Kids I-View’ application with my daughter on her tablet. As a parent, I unconsciously share the common engagement with the mass-media text as many others do. I can also unknowingly absorb this information with a Mandarin-speaking diaspora, now that ABC I-view offers some of my daughter’s favourite program’s in other languages. (Byrnes, 2017) Although our native language is different, I still share the common public of absorbing the same media texts, just dispersed in a different language, and sharing the common link of being a parent of a young child. ABC provides this geo-cultural and state flow by presenting content marketed at all Australians, making it accessible, easily understood and attempting to reach multi-national audiences from a non-English-speaking background (Thussu, 2010).

In conclusion, the countless ways I consume media daily, can form many presumed relationships to millions of other people in the world through our common interests, and media habits. It is important to acknowledge that the media landscape is changing and will continue to do so, as will the capacity of media platforms that are in other countries to have global resonance, engagement and affiliation with more comprehensive publics (Flew, 2007).

 

Bibliography

Byrnes, H. (2017, January 27). ABC will air Peppa Pig and other kids TV programs in Mandarin. Retrieved from The Herald Sun: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/television/abc-will-air-peppa-pig-and-other-kids-tv-programs-in-mandarin/news-story/c3e723fe34629fc0c497893b6763a9bf

Flew, T. (2007). Understanding Global Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

JobSpin.Cz. (2017, May 9th). Czech Republic Lags behind, Fast Internet Is Blocked by the Governmental Officials. Retrieved from http://www.jobspin.cz: https://www.jobspin.cz/2017/05/czech-republic-lags-behind-fast-internet-is-blocked-by-the-officials

Taylor, L. (2012, May 2). ‘State of the Internet’ report reveals the fastest web speeds around the world. Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au: http://www.news.com.au/technology/state-of-the-internet-reports-reveals-internet-speeds-around-the-world/news-story/dbffb6129bf253ba3d8e7d072158a35b

Thussu, D. (2010). Mapping global media flow and contra-flow. International Communication; a reader, 221-238.

Turrow, J. (2011). Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Edition. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Public Culture, 14(1), 49-57.

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