Being Digital: Revolution and Democracy

Image by Gerd Altmann

What does “being digital” mean? This phrase can have various meanings. For some, and myself included, being digital could stand for having a literacy to understand how to use the internet. For example, when using social media platforms there are unwritten rules of etiquette for using them. It might be bizarre to most if a friend shared a profile picture of you late at night on their page but would be less of a surprise if a grandparent did the same. Navigating through a multitude of platforms on the web from Facebook to Twitter requires literacy. Further, an individual needs to have an understanding of the internet to be literate.

New media has created a new form of enjoyment by engaging with spectator sports. People are now able to instantly respond to sports in real time via the internet. Additionally, TV shows and fans alike have created ways to respond in real time as well. Shows such as American Horror Story and The Walking Dead each have a subreddit dedicated the fanbase and when a new episode is released there is a live discussion throughout the episode. Besides Reddit, TV shows have taken to Twitter as well with their own hashtag as another means for fans to interact in real time. Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron write in The Californian Ideology,

“ By integrating different technologies around common protocols, something is being created which is more than the sum of its parts.”

TV shows and sports are integrating different technologies for individuals to be a part of something that is happening in real time.

Moreover, “being digital” has an influence on our thoughts and behaviors. Forms of non-responsive media control the narrative. For instance, a classroom is a container that creates students. Education controls how you behave with a goal of to do as your told. It is impossible to create a revolution with a non-responsive media such as this. Higher education is the most conservative institution in the world. Everyone is part of the system and those who are not are frowned upon. Furthermore, Jean Baudrillard from his section“Requiem for the Media” (New Media Reader),

“Potential for change lies in the refusal to accept a model of producers and consumers.”

Revolution restores the possibility of a response (page 281). Everyone must be able to manipulate the media to create a revolution. Containers, such as a classroom, shape our behavior. The continuous cycle of the classroom creates a system people are slaves to. Are there other alternatives? Changes to the classroom media have been making minor changes. Instead of a situation where a professor lectures for the entirety of a class, some have taken up a seminar approach where students are the ones who guide the conversations. Finally, with all media, platforms do come and go nothing will be around forever.