[FOUNTAIN]Nothing more than feelingsModern media are growing day by day, as the latest technology introduces new media. The power of the media over our daily lives is increasingly getting bigger, too. The “out-of-home media environment,” or OOH, is no longer a new concept. Today, mobile and wireless Internet services are a given. Monitors project video images on the streets, in the subways, in public restrooms, on vending machines and at the cashiers at local convenience stores.
The super-saturation of media causes an information overload. Raymond Williams has said that a week’s worth of television dramas today is more than people in the past saw during their entire lives. Each medium aims to deliver an excess of information. Television conveys supplementary information, with a crawler at the bottom of the screen. Users also want more, continuous stimuli. Cellular phones have become a part of the body for “digital kids,” who have gotten used to playing with their mobile phones 24 hours a day. To the digital-savvy generation, the stimuli are fun. Having nothing to do is a catastrophe.
American cultural commentator Todd Gitlin pays special attention to the surplus of emotion provided by the media in his book, “Media Unlimited.” Condemning the super-saturation, Mr. Gitlin wrote that the bigger problem is the torrent of emotions we that do not have to feel because of the unnecessary saturation. However, ironically, what the viewers want is emotional satisfaction. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, people watched television not only to learn practical information but also to feel fear, grief, compassion and relief.
According to Mr. Gitlin, the German sociologist Georg Simmel took notice of the sociological meaning of emotion early on. The advent of the market economy, where everything is converted into a currency value, brought lots of cynicism. Conversely, people want artificial stimuli and excitement.
Mr. Gitlin wrote, “The calculation and reserve demanded by the monetary economy stimulate, by way of compensation, emotional needs and a craving for excitement. Thus does the upsurge of market thinking in the 18th century call up its opposite, romanticism, which urges us to heed the inner voice of feelings.”
Of course, the emotions are disposable, fake feelings that have little to do with real life. While we are elated by the surplus stimuli provided by excessive media, those are not genuine emotions. In this age when experience in life means experience with media, there is no escape from these fake feelings. That’s why Mr. Gitlin’s argument is insightful yet depressing at the same time.
by Yang Sung-hee
The writer is a culture and sports desk writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.