18 Apr 2013

Taking a break from essay writing to write about essays

I came back to London ten days ago after two weeks in France, and since then, all I've seen of London is my house/the library/my work place.

Mostly the library.

As I sat at a desk in front of my open computer for what feels (and probably is) the thirtieth hour this week, I got a blog post idea. This never happens; as you can imagine from the lack of posts lately, I don't get blog post ideas. But as always, it happened when I should have been doing something else.

I'm currently writing a portfolio of essays for one of my courses. Once again, I chose YouTube as my leading example. This is the great thing about my course and the reason why despite everything, despite the occasional terrible modules and the overall feeling of 'is this really worth it?', I'm 100% I chose the best and rightest course for me: I study what I do.

I study the media, and the media are what I do. I write a blog, I tweet, I make videos online, I spend countless hours on Facebook; all these things are part of my life, and I'm lucky enough that I'm learning why and how they're this important to me and most of our society. A lot of people say media students don't do eff all; allow me to disagree.

YouTube and Facebook have more than one billion active users a month. That's just under 10% of the world population. We are all always connected to something, almost all of us have phones (often smartphones), we watch TV, we listen to the radio; all of this is everywhere. It's not insignificant. And studying the media is as significant as studying geography. I believe the media shape the society we live in today: if it wasn't for a website such as Mediapart, French politicians wouldn't be double checking all of their secret Swiss accounts right now. If it wasn't for Twitter, some say the Arab Spring wouldn't have happened (others disagree, but my opinion is that social media strongly helped.)

And if it wasn't for the media, at least 50% of my life would be different. For a start, I wouldn't be doing all the things I mentioned before. And you wouldn't be here. I'd say at least a quarter of the readers of this blog wouldn't know I exist.

This is what's great about the media: we make it. The portfolio of essays I'm writing is all about this: who produces the media and culture, what's the role of audiences, where to draw the line between production and consumption. My view is that there isn't a line.

In my essay, I mentioned Rosianna Halse Rojas, a blogger and vlogger and Internet person who makes videos at missxrojas. I had a question for her, I tweeted at her, she replied in less than five minutes. She serves as a valid, relevant academic media example for an essay that is very much important to my degree. And she is also the housemate of a mate, and reads and replies my tweets. This is not name dropping, but a real observation; one that might seem obvious but which in my opinion means a lot to our society.

It's normal people, like you and me, who make the media. We make the culture. We make the Internet.

True, we don't make all of it. When we post videos online, we use video hosting websites. Money and mainstream ideologies and the political agenda and many other factors have a strong influence on everyone's work and ideas. And true, the "we" I'm talking about is restricted to those of us who actually have access to a computer.

Still, I don't think this is a fact to be overlooked. It's not just companies. It's not just VEVO and ITV and Hollywood, it's also us, and Alex "the future of music" Day, and the backers of the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, and missxrojas. And it can be you too.

Now back to my essay, because this 2:1 is not going to write itself.

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