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Convergence Culture in the Age of KONY 2012

You may find yourself asking: what is convergence culture? Well folks, to put it simply it’s “where the power of the media producer and the media consumer meet in unpredictable ways”. I think everyone understands the large role that media plays in our lives; however, I do believe that many do not acknowledge the true power that media has. I myself did not truly begin to grasp that until recently – specifically, the KONY 2012 Video.

I like to think that we (digital natives) now understand or have some abstract grasp on how new media makes a large impact on life. As my age group (if you remember a typewriter from your mom or dads work and not from a museum/film you qualify) can be viewed as part of the transitional generations between complete foreigners and complete natives… we’ve seen how technology has drastically changed lives.

As digital natives we get our information from a multitude of sources, as Henry Jenkins puts it: we “graze” through news. Unlike our parents’ generation, who had to solely rely on the newspapers, we get information from dozens of sources multiple times throughout the day. We feel more informed and thus we feel more empowered. But, is this empowerment a false one?

Jenkins also asserts that new media outlets such as youtube make it easy for almost every interest group to be represented in the media landscape. These interest groups can now act as Citizen Bloggers – keeping us update on all of the latest news surrounding their cause. Hence, with the death of newspaper style journalism, is the death of objectivity. When an interest group is feeding you news there is no objectivity… Everything is slanted.

I am not naïve. I do know that different newspapers were more partial or impartial to certain causes; nevertheless the power of the pen (or the typewriter) was acknowledge and the call for accountability was great. In the web sphere one can hide behind a screen name, a website, a computer; whereas with newspapers, your name was trade and you didn’t want to chance mucking it up.

Newspapers’ news called for some objectivity and relegated “opinion” to the section entitled after it. In the case of KONY 2012 though, something was different. We were bombarded by images from an interest group who want to ignite our fire to help their cause; a cause, which while presented as a very black and white news issue turned out to be extremely grey upon further examination.

The fact that just one video can ignite such a firestorm of global outcry is an example of this convergence culture. The interaction between the media producer and the media consumer is more capable than ever – facebook, twitter, reddit… the list goes on and on. How many times can a video appear on your feeding telling you to watch it, without you being curious enough to do it? For me, it was 4x’s – and then I, just like many of my friends shared it to the rest of my “Facebook family” so that they might be informed.  Little did I know that the information I was feeding them was in fact, exaggerated in many ways.Which brings me backs to the question I asked earlier: are we truly empowered in this age of convergence culture? I guess only time will truly tell, but I am tempted to say – NO.  How easily men bend to the will, desires, and propaganda of other men will most certainly be tested with this prevalence of the convergence culture.

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