Everybody wants to change the world. Podcast, blogposts, tweets and all the rest. But we want to do it safely. Here on Medium, and on most of the Internet, we can suggest that there are really just two safe approaches to media building and publishing:
Fantasy and horror.
Fantasy offers escape. Horror offers catharsis.
Because fantasy media necessitates an ontological separation from our world, we are obliged as fantasy consumers to escape from our mundane existence to live in the world of the fantasy. To the extent that this escape is totalizing, the fantasy is successful.
Horror, on the other hand, attempts to create a cathartic response in the
consumer. This cathartic response depends upon, and is heightened by, the consumer’s belief in the ontological reality of the experience. We may still be scared by a mediated experience that has a patently separate reality from our own, but to the extent that we believe the horror element of the media could actually happen to us, the media is successful. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Of course, there are crossovers. From the horror of Presidential demonic possession to the Muskian technological fantasy of ‘brain control’, we soak it up like the media consumers that we are.
One explanation might be offered by Paulo Freire.
A central premise of Freire’s theory of critical literacy is that education — and by extension media consumption — is not neutral; the purpose of education is human liberation through what Freire termed a “dialogical approach,” the goal of which is critical thinking.
According to Freire, critical thought ultimately leads toward participants gaining
an understanding of the social and political forces that impact their world, an
understanding that would help them gain control over their lives. According to Freire’s theories, “true knowledge evolves from the interaction of reflection and action” Freire termed this interaction praxis.
One might expect that — given the fact that the Internet enables us to reach- almost- any media source- we might be the most effective generation since the beginning of history. But instead, we fill our lives with horror and fantasy.
Could it be that our opportunities to post are outweighing our opportunities for action?
So, do me a favour. Let me know if there is a market on the Internet for the real? Because talking seems a lot safer than actually doing stuff. But as the data wave forms eliminating risk might create much more risk than we can handle.