When I first received this assignment, I was excited to take on the challenge. I was beginning to notice how media was taking over my life in various areas, and decided it was a good idea to revert to “old media”. This assignment immediately reminded me of the slogan of St. Lucia tourism: Live Slow. This was plastered on t-shirts and mugs all over the gift shops, similar to Ya Mon in Jamaica. So, I decided to do what the Lucians did, and live a little slower.
I am a huge movie buff, usually the first person in line on Friday nights for new releases. For the sake of this assignment, I gave up streaming movies on my computer as well as physically going to the movies. I lapsed to watching only VHS and DVDs. This exclusive practice taught me some lessons, as well as opened my eyes to the way I consume modern media. The argument in this paper is simple: slow media is not a step backwards, but rather a step forward. It revolutionizes the way we consume modern media. Taking the time to digest media as opposed to inhaling it is the proper way to practice media.
The most valuable lesson I may have learned is from The Slow Media Manifesto, by Blumtritt, David, and Kohler. As a millennial, I find I am constantly operating media on cross-platform basis. I can never have just one tab open on my computer. For example, if I am watching Netflix, I am also on Twitter and Instagram. Experimenting with slow media caused me to Monotask. “Slow media can only be consumed with pleasure in focused alertness” (Blumtritt et al. 2010). You sit down, watch the movie, and do nothing else. What a wild concept.
It was interesting raiding my physical movie collection, because my 18-month-old cousin hadn’t seen half of those before. It automatically made me think about how he was raised in a different generation, with the entire world at his 18 month old fingertips. That is incredibly daunting. When I was his age, I watched what I had. Now he has what he watches. This type of realization really hit home for me. The world that kids these days are growing up in is vastly different than what I grew up in. My nephew has the entire history of cinema at his disposal. I’m not sure what type of person this may generate, but I am excited to see him grow up. Without realizing it, he is going to be quicker on the computer than most adults at present. I still have to teach my 50-year-old mother some things, while I know my nephew will be perfectly fluent in computer-talk. This slow media experiment helped me to realize just how different the world surrounding us is. I was raised in a time way less technologically advanced. I truly believe this will breed a new type of human.
The Oscars were on February 27th 2017. This night in particular was hard for me because it has always been tradition. I love bashing the undeserved wins. I hadn’t seen a few of the movies that were nominated because we always stream them right before the Oscars. I do this because life can get too hectic to actually make an appearance at the movie theatres. I just stream all of the Oscar prospects and don’t leave the comfort of the home. Not this year. In doing this research, I consequently forced my boyfriend into it. I had not purchased a DVD in what seemed like forever, but I was dying to see La La Land. This is an emphasis on quality in production and execution. Slow media does not beg credibility, it takes time to build a trusting relationship with consumers, based on respect. The concept of respect will be highlighted later in this paper.
This proves a point from The Slow Media Manifesto. This practice is discursive and dialogic (Blumtritt et al. 2010). The counterpart in this instance was Wal-Mart. I could not download the film on my own. This transactional requirement was noteworthy because it allowed me to step away from traditional techniques. It also allowed me to reflect on the social constructs associated with Oscar night. Everyone watches it, or at least pretends to. It is more of a social event than anything else. I may not have realized this if it wasn’t for this slower approach.
The social media hype surrounding the Oscars was noted during this experiment. I am constantly checking Twitter, and Oscar night was blowing it up. It opens a conversation about celebrities, specifically what they are wearing. This made me reflect on the ways in which social media shape our opinions on TV. By this I mean that once you tweet about something, you are seeking validation within the Twitter community. That particular tweet enters a conversation if you hashtag it. It got me thinking about the whole world watching the same thing at the same time, and responding on social media accordingly. Slow media are social media (Blumtritt et al 2010) in the sense that I was able to be in tune with social media while simultaneously watching the Oscars. Twitter (for example), opens a dialogue surrounding one particular show, bringing diverse communities together. Anyone who has access to Twitter has access to the public sphere discussing the Oscars.
Another trait from The Slow Media Manifesto is timelessness (Blumtritt et al. 2010). I’ll be honest and say that a lot of the movies I was watching on Netflix were just space-fillers. Something to play as background noise while I occupied myself on other platforms. With slow media, whatever I chose to watch was timeless. The Disney classics I have on VHS reminded me of those tales that never die. Movies appear and disappear on Netflix. Once you purchase a DVD, you have it forever, permitting that your DVD player still functions. According to the manifesto, they do not lose their quality over time but at best get some patina that can even enhance their value (Blumtritt et al. 2010). This is spot-on. The tangible value of actually putting the DVD or VHS into the player, and rewinding. I forgot I had to actually rewind the VHS tape.
However, one could argue that the content itself may not actually be timeless. Yes, you may have the DVD forever, but will the story itself still be a classic? This is debatable depending on your personal definition of relevance. It may be physically timeless, but not necessarily culturally timeless. This is a notion to ponder on while analyzing slow media and its benefits. Each piece of the Manifesto screams relevancy at first, but is it really exactly what everyone will experience? Furthermore, if they don’t experience each bullet point, are they doing it wrong?
The point from The Slow Media Manifesto that resonated with me the most was: “slow media respect their users” (Blumtritt et al. 2010). This is so true. Slow media doesn’t strive to consume user’s lives, it is just there. The give and take relationship between media and users is equal. “Faster” media may dictate when you use them, as opposed to the other way around. It does not approach me in a submissive way as in “you must use me”, it is simply there when I need it. Slow media presents itself in an approachable way, and doesn’t make the user feel like they constantly need to be tuned in. The extra step of actually putting the DVD or VHS into the player shows that I am in control of the playing, as opposed to the downloaded item at my fingertips at all times. I didn’t click on an advertisement that brought me to this movie. The suggestions were more personal and less algorithmic. This goes along with the point from the manifesto about being recommended over advertised. The movies are not suggested me via meticulous cookie tracking, but just a friend that knows me. I actually have to make the conscious effort to watch the movie, which constitutes a two-way relationship with mutual respect.
This experiment allowed me to reflect on my current media practices. The whole world is tuned in with the same consumption methods. Slow media is undoubtedly “auratic”, as mentioned in the manifesto (Blumtritt et al. 2010). It is the sense that this particular medium belongs in my life at this particular moment, instead of just always being on. For example, a tab always being open as opposed to actually going out of my way to watch a movie. This experiment has transformed me into an active consumer over a passive one. Consuming slow media may not always be ideal for my current lifestyle as journalist, but it may be something I delve into at targeted points in my life.
Kohler, Benedikt , Sabria David, and Jorg Blumtritt. “The Slow Media Manifesto.” Slow Media. N.p., 2 Jan. 2010. Web. 9 Jan. 2017. http://en.slow-media.net/manifesto