Digital Nativity & Over-Saturation in Media
We could sit here all day discussing the pros and cons found within media, especially those of social media. It’s a hot topic that brings forth much debate. I consider myself thankful that I didn’t grow up with social media as I look at youth around me now who are affected by it on several different levels. Nonetheless, at the same time, media—social, digital, and print alike—are effective communication tools for not only personal use but corporate, too. They allow us to communicate important topics in a variety of ways, to a variety of people, across a variety of nations. However, is it possible that the realm of media is over-saturated? If so, is it possible to do anything about this over-saturation, to distinguish from it?
When speaking of ‘over-saturation’ I refer to mass amounts of content wherein the realm in which the content is being published, and the content itself, begins to lose its value and effect, as though becoming ‘just another.’ These days, it seems as though everyone is writing a book, everyone is hosting a podcast, and everyone has an active Instagram account or wants to blog in order to have some sort of influence. An example of this is found in the terms ‘insta writer’ and ‘insta photographer,’ which have been socially coined to refer to amateur people who aim to pursue Art on the likes of social media platforms exclusively and upon doing so, claim themselves to be professionals, in turn tarnishing their work and the function of these media platforms. The realm of media has changed shape in that it accommodates to everyone, making it easy and accessible, cost-efficient and quick, to produce various types of media. Although, does there come a point where there are too many resources? How do we distinguish what is valuable and worthwhile to ingest? Recently, in the span of a week, I listened to a podcast where the host was responding to a similar question and argued that no, everyone has a message worth sharing and everyone’s is unique thus, it merits being heard; meanwhile, in that same week, I had a conversation with a friend who argued that everyone is starting their own media company these days. Each of these subjective statements contains truth and room for debate and reveal a common thread: the desire to have something to offer, to express oneself, to be heard, and to be known for something significant.
It is wonderful that we have thoughtful things to share as well as the desire and freedom to express ourselves. We have thoughts to share with others, sometimes on an individual level and other times, on a level to serve and edify those around us. Much of the time, we have the privilege of hearing testimonies and telling stories of God’s work in our lives, which merit being told again and again—this we must not take that for granted. However, this thread I speak of unveils how the mass production of media around us speaks to a matter that goes beyond media: creating an impact on the world around us, conveying and contributing to something meaningful.
Today’s age is not only surrounded by information, we are also content hungry, looking to ingest more. We long to take away something meaningful and the more we entertain this longing, we also hope to cultivate meaning. But… why? While there are many explanations and reasons for motivation that can differ for everyone, it is plausible that we are seeking satisfaction of our longing for meaning.
As Christians, we can rest in the comfort that this longing for meaning is satisfied fully in Christ—an explanation which, in itself, contributes to people’s testimony of God’s Kingdom and nature that others may know God more deeply, and in that, know the truth that He satisfies every need. Having said this, it is important to remain attentive to the scope of this argument: the ‘how.’ How we communicate.
How do we communicate outside of [social] media? Is it even possible to do in this century? The reality is that [social] media platforms are not sustainable and vehicles like Instagram won’t be around in fifty years. Being aware of this, how do we dismantle over-saturation? Can we communicate more effectively without reducing the value of our message by blazing new trails and innovating new, equally effective communication methods that aren’t Instagram stories and captions? Are there other accessible platforms for this variety of people across a variety of nations? I don’t have the answer to these rhetorical questions and if anything, only perpetuate the matter I address here by having written this article, so may I leave you with an invitation: to consider what it looks like to cultivate change that critically preserves the value of the things we create, the thoughts we have, and the meaning we hope to experience and cultivate. In doing so, may we believe that in our lives, we will be remembered less for the media we produce and more for the way we love God and love people.