Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

Impersonal, it’s a matter of perspective.

So I am in a training session today, actually I have to go back there in about half an hour. But earlier there was a discussion that made my blood temperature rise just a few degrees. I think it is a subject I have touched on before, the disengaged, impersonal youth. There was a discussion about how now days everyone is texting or emailing and this one guy had to beg his kids to get on the phone because no-one really talks to anyone any more.

This is totally a matter of perspective.

As my blood temperature raised at the irritation of this old cliché that ‘now days everyone sucks’, I had a moment of clarity. I realised why I thought this. It is because often I think talking on the phone can be less personal than sending a text. Before you call me crazy, let me explain. Often we are out in busy public situations, maybe on public transport or in a coffee shop (tax paying or otherwise) and so any phone conversation we have can be overheard by any number of people. For this reason I often find (and my family will testify to this) that I become very closed off on the phone. Everything is reduced to short ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘u-huh’, ut-uh’ ‘If you want’ type answers, basically brief and non-de script. This is I realise, is for two reasons. Partly because I could be over heard, and also because I don’t want to be the Don Jolly character, shouting on the phone and disturbing everyone else. It may not be that I have anything particularly private to say on the phone, my life is not the episode of Jeremy Kyle some of my public transport co-users seem to have. But even just arranging dinner, I don’t necessarily want everyone on the train to know I’m having tofu hotdogs (or hotcats as I call them – cats are cooler than dogs and tofu is cooler than donkey lips).

Therefore if I text then I can be a lot more personal in what I say, and tend to be more forth coming with  my opinions about adding a topping  or side to the aforementioned hotcat. I guess even as I’m writing this I realise that there is also an element of being self conscious about my voice. I’m not a major fan of my own voice, certainly recordings do not match what I hear in my head. Whereas I can deal with this in person, and I use a lot of gestures when talking which detract the focus from my voice, on the phone it is isolated. All the person on the other end has is my voice, and if that isn’t something I’m comfortable then it’s like going on a date when all they can see if my stomach…I’m going to feel uncomfortable with the focus on such an area.

To conclude then, youth are not necessarily getting worse at communicating, it is more than our environment is changing and some people become aware and self conscious about this. Then the more you get used to a particular form of communication, the more awkward any other form will seem.

(I also like the paper trail that texts and emails produce)

Leave a comment »

How the interactive experience created the entitled fan

So, this post is not entirely tech related, but it will get more into tech later, so do bear with me. The inspiration for this was the latest episode of Unanswered podcast (which is ace and you should listen to it http://unansweredpodcast.wordpress.com) I recommend you listen before reading the rest of this as otherwise there will be spoilers, I’ll wait……

This particular episode was on fandom, an area of particular fascination for me (if you have a lot of spare time you can read my essay on Twilight Fandom here, although note this was written as a student so quality may not reflect my current ability). So as you can imagine I was very happy to hear one of my favourite podcasts discussing the topic, as usual I enjoyed hearing the anecdotes which always make me reflect on  my own experiences. However, as this is a topic I have studied quite a lot I found myself more frustrated than usual when the podcast had to end (unfortunately for me the presenters have lives and families so impose a time limit), as I wanted to discuss the topic further. It was then pointed out to me that I could write a blog post to draw out the points i wanted to discuss, and thus here I am.

There are many things I want to talk about, for example levels of fans, when do you start to become a fan – as opposed to someone with a vague interest –  and when do you cross the line out of fandom and become a stalker or murderer? Is the latter just an extreme version of fandom or is it something other? Perhaps at some point I will take the time to write more about those – maybe I’ll write a book on fandom (I’d love to do that). But as I too have other matters to attend to I will focus on a couple of things I wanted to look at; number one is why do people become fans of some things and not others, and secondly to look at how the interactive experience created (perhaps fuelled is a better word) the entitled fan. The last one is the part tech comes into it a bit more, so I’ll try to make the first point fairly short.

So on the first point, what I really mean here is that quite often (as discussed in the podcast) we become a fan of something because it has a special, soulful resonance with us. Often this occurs during a time of development, perhaps childhood, or some other time we felt especially vulnerable. However, my question is how come I can become say a fan and collector of My Little Pony (not G2s though…errk!) however I’m not a collector of Barbie dolls, despite the fact I probably spent more time playing with Barbies and using them to work out complicated issues I was interested in (mostly around relationships). Perhaps it’s to do with the obviousness of the appeal? My Little Pony (MLP) were instrumental in my potty training experience (they were the bribe if I could stay dry for a specific amount of time, problem is I remember actively thinking if I became potty trained then I wouldn’t get more MLPs, so I maybe didn’t put the effort in to maintain positive behaviours.) But the association with such a significant part of my childhood is obvious, and it seems natural I would create a connection. Whereas it wasn’t until writing this blog post I realised how important Barbie was in my childhood, in fact I may well be typing myself into fandom there. It could be to do with negative experiences associated with the items of potential fandom. With MLP there was nothing negative, whereas with Barbie as I grew older I became increasingly aware of the brand critics in society, for portraying negative stereotypes of women (although I can assure you when I was playing with them they weren’t all good girls, or all sluts – Cindy tended to be the slutty one, always off to Action Man land). This may have prevented me becoming a fan in my teens, and of course there was the increasingly negative reaction of society towards my enjoyment of Barbie. By this I mean I was in about year 7 of secondary school before I stopped playing with Barbie dolls, and this attracted more and more negative attention from peers. Although MLP is seen as equally inappropriate for adults I had stopped playing with them much earlier and didn’t revisit them until my late teens, when it was a much more private enjoyment, (although there is always an element of awkwardness when I feel super creepy if someone other than my husband sees my collection). Anecdotes aside, it is interesting how we become fans of certain resonant things and potentially not others.

As promised I will move on to the tech fuelled rant, I mean section of the post…..

How the interactive experience created the entitled fan

As I mentioned earlier I’m not sure whether the word should be created or fuelled here, but we will go with created as it sounds far more dramatic in a rather Frankenstein way. Indeed my argument is one of a Frankensteinian monster created by the entertainment industry. In the podcast the guys discuss how the internet has created an echo chamber that fuels the passions of fans and can exacerbate experiences of enjoyment or disappointment with a particular artefact. However I would argue that you have to go back slightly further to see what has created the terrible monster that is the entitled fan. I agree that before the internet you would have had fans that wrote in to complain or compliment a publisher or creator on a particular film, TV show, comic, book or other cultural artefact that might generate fans. But by the time you had found a pen and paper or sat down at your typewriter or even computer to write a letter your passions would have cooled slightly and you might reconsider. The real time access that the internet and social media provide change this, and often people do not think before they post/send.

The guys were discussing how fans act as though they are entitled, demanding a storyline is reversed or plays out a certain way. This is where my argument comes in, the one about Frankenstein’s monster. Technology enabled studios and publishers alike (as well as many other companies) to create interactive experiences for fans. We all know about Snakes on a Plane, the film that was basically written by public vote. There are many other examples of when companies have asked fans to vote on how the story ends, what character is the next to be turned into an action figure, what flavour chocolate bar or crisps should we introduce next. Basically companies utilising the power of crowd sourcing ideas so they can keep as many customers/ fans happy as possible and give them a sense of power (even if it turns out to be an illusion of choice). As people/ fans get more and more used to companies asking for, and listening to, their opinions there is naturally going to come a time when they utilise effect platforms to give their opinion, even when unprompted or unwanted. They will then keep giving their opinion, louder and louder until they get the reaction they have become a custom to.

This is another problem as there are examples of fan lead petitions to reinstate TV shows or characters that have been successful. Once this happens once it acts as validation that this method of loud  group shouting is effective, and thus fans come to expect a result every time. When they do not get the expected result, then like petulant children, they become aggressive, throwing a virtual temper tantrum in the hopes they eventually get their own way. Again this force is utilised by companies, such as the examples of recent Kickster projects lead, not by ordinary fans but, by cast/ crew, again validating the negative actions of fans.

This is what I mean by Frankenstien’s monster. Companies have created this sense of entitlement by giving the illusion that the fan is indeed king in their eyes.

1 Comment »