From Consumers to Producers.
When I first signed up for Linkedin, I thought; “What a great social platform to meet potential employers, similar professionals and future participants.” I teach dental hygiene at a private college, and I am always looking for free ways to promote our services; especially in the area of continuing education. It is a very competitive industry. The Internet has been very good to me and Linkedin was just another way to be a “produser”. I was in awe of the amount of people using Linkedin! I thought, “I’ve been left behind!”. Look what I have been missing. Everyone in the dental world is here! What was so important and what was I missing? As I began to pose questions and send out information about our continuing education program, my status level climbed. I became a top contributor. Wow! I thought what I was saying was so important that it deserved top billing. Little did I know that it was only because I was participating many times a day, and when I finally became exhausted and ran out of new things to contribute, my top billing declined quickly!! Silly me. This platform predetermined how I participated. In order to stay on top, I needed to log in frequently, and work for Linkedin for free. It was a full-time job with no pay. I was contributing as a “produser”, choosing to advertise for myself about myself, but it was already predetermined by Linkedin that I was secretly working for them. The more I thought I was becoming popular, or as they put it “top contributor” the more Linkedin tried to connect me with the dental world. I was overworked; my email was overflowing; I couldn’t keep up. Was it really as many dental people as I thought or was Linkedin purposely inundating me to believe the whole world was using this platform? It was exactly as Bird (2011) had discussed when describing the fans of the TV series: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Not every fan is online discussing the series. I agree with her position, “In our embrace of the produser, we should not lose sight of the more mundane, internalized, even passive articulation with media that characterizes a great deal of media consumption and I believe it will continue to do so” (p. 504). I agree with her assessment; although Web 2.0 tools allow us to become “produsers” instead of inactive participants, and can become addicted very quickly, it may make us forget the importance of non-web-based tools and loose sight of the power of the media industries. That is what happened when I became obsessed with Linkedin. Exactly what the power of this media platform was trying to accomplish. I became The Audience of the Media!!
In saying all that, here is my message to you: The People Formerly Known as the Audience…from The People Still Known as the Media…
We The Media want to thank you The People Formerly Known as The Audience, and show our appreciation of your new found freedom to become active participants in this new medium. We The Media, give you, The People Formerly Known as The Audience, so much opportunity for free speech that your opinions are like a pebble of sand on a beach of others thoughts and ideas, and again, we The Media, thank you. You, The People Formerly Known as The Audience, are becoming effortlessly unrecognizable with your online user names and avatars; and we The Media, especially thank you. You, The People Formerly Known as The Audience, have been offered such a wide expanse of space on this new medium, that it has made your ideas, thoughts and relationships significant only to those participating in your small chat rooms or online communities; again, we thank you. With this new medium, you, The People Formerly Known as The Audience are becoming further divided instead of coming together for a common ground, and we The Media, thank you. As you, the People Formerly Known as The Audience, sit solely in your lonely workspace, we The Media are coming up with new ways for you to become our slaves without you knowing it, and we thank you. Not only do you, The People Formerly Known as The Audience, have the convenience of participating with speed in all social platforms, but you The People Formerly Known as The Audience, will continually support us, The Media, with every login, sign on or registration. So in closing, we The Media want to say a special thank you by asking you to join us in becoming The People Formerly Known as The Audience: Made Possible by The Media.