Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Consumer/Producer Reversal

                The world is changing. What an obvious statement – of course it’s changing. Different people are walking the earth each day, ground is eroding, climates patterns are shifting, new inventions are being created, and ideas are being refined. The odd thing is that as more things change, more things stay the same. The weather is transitioning from hot to cold. It’s changing, but it’s the same as previous year’s shift from summer to winter.  Inhabitants of the Earth are terrified about Ebola spreading to their nations, just as they were concerned about HIV, AIDS, and H1N1 years ago. Things change yet still remain the same, and it’s an odd concept to realize. Similarly we, the general public, have always been given information that’s been filtered. For a long time, empowered people chose what the general populace would hear about and what kind of filter would be put on the story. Companies, which are typically considered authority in our consumer-driven society, also indirectly chose what we would buy, wear, and listen to. When the “World Wide Web” was introduced, the idea of unfiltered information and choices captivated us. We wanted to remove the middlemen and hear the truth. Although it seemed like the first time humans had pure information, there were still filters from the writers, the sites we viewed, and the links we accessed. Then, social media sites and search engines began using programming to filter what we read based on our history and background of our clicks.
While both of those types of online filters still affect us, filters are also created by other people. Outspoken and persuasive opinions make us reevaluate our personal opinions what we see as a reasonable belief. The people we follow on social media also “click” their way into making our filters. When other internet users click “like”, “retweet”, “favorite”, etc. for certain bands, pictures, blogs, and websites, we tend to gravitate toward the comfortable opinion of majority. The band that can tweet enough clever tweets and post the best videos captures our attention from the amount of fan feedback it receives. We seem to appreciate things more quickly if thousands of other people demonstrate online that they “like” it than from a record company’s television commercial. More artists and companies are beginning to utilize the internet to advertise and spread the word about their band or products because popular opinion directs us to certain links and sites. For example, YouTube displays the popular videos of the moment and Bing displays what searches are trending now.  A reversal has occurred – rather than the previous filter on our information by those with power, internet users are now filtering what we view.  It switched from middle-aged white males to young people who have extra time to search the web. While the “who” in the filtering changes, the filters themselves remain.

                Just like our filters are changing from "experienced" to "inexperienced", artists are changing parallel to filters. In the past, artist needed to have experience and money to do well in the music industry. Without it, they couldn't purchase the equipment necessary for quality recording so they would have to go to a record company or wait to buy the equipment. The artist depended on the record company to provide them with necessary information, ideas, equipment, and publicity so the artist had little say in what he or she could do. Now, the equipment is much less expensive so artists often don't need to rely on other companies - they rely solely on themselves. Without the companies, the artists are more than just a product getting exploited - they are the producers.
               America is clearly a consumer-driven society. The consumers enhance the economy and its growth, and the authority is naturally given to the producers. Clothing companies choose what styles we will be purchasing and wearing for the next season, advertising companies tell us we need more stuff because what we have isn’t enough, film companies demonstrate to us what behaviors and lifestyles are acceptable, and we listen and accept what the government tells us. They cater to us, but for the most part we simply follow their lead. We rely on them to tell us the truth - to give us unfiltered information. We don’t question the need for 3 athletic shoes (an all-purpose pair, a pair for running, and a pair for style) because clothing and advertising companies enforce the necessity. We, as the general populace, have always been sheeple (people that follow the lead, like sheep follow a shepherd), but that may be changing in some ways. Looking at the music industry, there are many amateur artists able to create music that is nearly professional quality. These artists are able to avoid the music-producing companies of the past and their opinions on what good music sounds like. Rather than recording companies deciding which bands might make it, WE choose. We choose, using YouTube and social media, by simply watching what they’ve done and clicking “like” to spread our opinions.  WE are producing the music and then consuming it by listening and determining whether we like it or not. Our easily categorized "consumer" and "producer" society seems to be transforming itself into a world where classifying each is nearly impossible.
Source: PressPausePlay

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