How has social media changed how people perceive the arts?
I wanna talk about YouTube. And MySpace and the other things that helped Justin Bieber, Lily Allen, Russell Peters, and others to get noticed. First of all, our attention spans have become nil due to the internet, and we have patience only for snippets. I’ve only recently checked out Chat Roulette, which is very unsexy, but it’s also analogous to how we use the internet. We give everything half-a-second of our attention, realise it’s yet another ugly penis, then click away to an uglier penis…. How do you make someone give you more than half-a-second? Well, on YouTube and MySpace and stuff, you make music or make people laugh. Music and comedy can be instantly engaging, and after you’ve heard one verse or laughed at one punchline, you’re hooked. And then you tell everyone on Facebook and Twitter. And then that musician and comedian and sneezing panda cub go viral. Boom. Celebrity. Social media goes hand-in-hand with music and comedy, and clever stuff, and oooh!-and-aaah! stuff, and weird images, and sexy images, because they are instantly engaging and quickly gratifying. The pay-off comes very fast: three minutes for a pop song, fifteen seconds to tell a joke, one second to look at a cool picture. Social media doesn’t seem to work for long-form narrative drama. How would Rohmer fare on the internet? Narrative drama requires time and investment from the viewer, but the internet is grooming us to crave shorter and shorter. Twitter isn’t helping. 140 characters and everyone’s trying to be the next Oscar Wilde.
For the record, I have absolutely no problem with Bieber, Allen, Peters and others who got noticed from the internet. In fact, I admire them because of their tremendous talent and ability to harness technology. Their careers fascinate me.