There used to be a time when I could sit down and watch a TV programme without being invited to participate in it - either by sending in photos of me doing crazy things or by passing comment on stories or items which - frankly - I have zero interest in.
It has got to the stage where I sometimes half-expect the soaps to sudden break for a vote on which way the storyline should go next.
Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with people who are at the scene of a major breaking news story being used to inform the public about what is going on. They are being useful (except when you get newscasters speaking to approximately 5 people who all give the same version of events - but I think that is the price you pay for 24 hour rolling "news" coverage).
It is programmes like "The One Show", "The Voice", etc, where the viewers appear to have been given the job of finishing a half-made show as it is on air.
But it is not only TV programmes which appear to have succumbed to this dreadful outbreak.
Some newspaper websites appear to have the same problem. I know most of the newspaper websites are free. However, surely the journalists are paid enough to do a proper job of creating their own content without my help???
Interactive programmes and journalism has its place. However, I would much prefer to be allowed to sit down and watch a TV programme in peace (ie, without fear of being asked either to send in a photo of me throwing myself off the nearest high cliff or being asked to vote on whether or not I really think Jalopeno flavoured coffee is the best thing since sliced bread).
I suppose I am now going to make myself sound positively Jurassic but I much prefer the TV programmes we used to get. Particularly the Saturday evening programming. You know - proper variety shows, comedy which could entertain the family as a whole, the occassional gameshow like "Blankety Blank", etc.
Instead of that we (the audience) seem to be forced to make our own programming.
I hate to say this but I have recently found myself watching the "online" content produced on things like YouTube, Periscope, and even (sometimes) Blab, more and more. The content provides a good variety of topics by people who do it for the pure joy of entertaining people and educating them. Plus I know I am not going to be requested to vote or provide content whilst I watch them. I don't mind being asked to leave a comment after I have watched their output from beginning to end.
Periscope is slowly becoming one of my favourite ways of learning about different subjects. I am free to comment if I wish to but I am also free to just watch the proceedings and read everybody else's comments as they scroll up the screen. (I even get free Dutch practice when one of the people I follow on Twitter is patient enough in his Periscope broadcasts to allow me to brush up my best Dutch and ask him questions in it. Trust me - writing in Dutch when you are having to think in English at the same time can be very tricky.)
What is the difference between something like Social Media, YouTube, etc, and the Mainstream Media? As in - why do I object to the Mainstream Media requesting my participation in their shows whilst at the same time being prepared to quite happily interact with complete strangers on things like Periscope, etc???
I suppose it comes down to one thing - did I pay for the output to start with???
I pay for a TV licence which should exempt me from having to participate in shows unless I absolutely want to (ie, in the very unlikely event of me either being a contestant in a quiz show, or being used as an expert on a news item about disability).
On the other hand - I do not pay anything directly towards broadcasts on things like YouTube, etc. All I pay for is internet access - the actual content I watch is free.
I am starting to wonder if there could be some kind of scheme whereby the more "audience interactivity" the show involves the less the audience have to pay for watching it. A kind of sliding scale if you want.
Maybe then we might go back to having proper programmes on TV as well as a proper dividing line between Majnstream journalists and (although I really have this term) "Citizen Journalists" like me - who "report" on life as we see it.
I would really like it if the "Citizen Journalists" were given our own slots on the Mainstream Media. If only to prove that you don't need degrees coming out of your ears in order to report on a good story. Time and again the Mainstream Media appear to have missed the "real" story in their news reports on the major issues of the day.
There is a time and a place for "interactivity" - we just need to rediscover that balance.
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