I stumbled upon an article making a prediction for journalism in 2014. Jason Kottke announces that the blog is dead. Basically, his conclusion is that "blogs are for 40-somethings with kids." Ouch! You can imagine how offended I was as a hip, much younger than forty (a whole two years younger, thank you!) blogger who was reading this guy's blog.
Kottke claims that "In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD." And there you have it. Teens determine the meaningful paths to communication. Actually, as you see from reading the article, it's less about meaningful communication, and more about monetary value. Social networking packaged in shiny, little apps is a marketing dream come true.
Who wants to read words anymore when you can view a picture that will disappear in 8 seconds and you never have to worry about it again? Or do you? Who needs reflection and chronological awareness when you can browse by order of "importance" what the people you follow have to say in 140 characters or less? Who needs to read a well-thought out review when you can simply check out how many stars a product has? Who even needs word of mouth when you can look at a Twitter thread? Or better yet, who needs to report any kind of news or commentary when there are so many great selfies to scroll through?
But we live in a culture where teens determine the trends, and companies are now picking up on this by using these same mediums for their advertising. So I guess the journalism goes where the cash value goes.
So where does that leave the, ahem, 40-somethings with kids? Well, there are those who follow the lead of the younger crowd. You see them about sporting their labeled shirts, "I shop at the same store as my teen." Well, the logos don't actually say that, but that's how they are read. To give these parents the benefit of the doubt, maybe there was a two-for-one deal or they just want to save time. But there are plenty of non-Hollister-shirt-wearing-adults cruising the hip, social media strip. There are also those, like me, who join some of these sights just to spy on their kids (my daughter has notified me that my Instagram account is sorry). Besides, most of us are in some field that cares about marketing, so we must participate at some level in the new journalism.
And where does this leave the so-called Christian media? How does a proficient one-liner about Christ really enhance the Christian life and witness? Sure, posting Bible verses may be uplifting, but as I've said before, It makes you wonder if it cheapens God's Word to suspend it detached from context and conversation. While these newer forms of social media are helpful for sharing links to articles (usually on blogs), and they can even be fun for casual remarks, I fear Christians can just look a bit annoying if they try to use them to communicate meaningful content.
Kottke assures his readers that blogging will continue for the demographic of fogies that he has so bluntly thrown us in, himself included. But I have to say that it really bothers me that all of these shallow forms of social networking can even be called journalism. I remember when blogging was gaining popularity, many professionals lamented that now anyone could be a writer, anyone could be published. But this new form of so-called journalism doesn't even care about writing. At least most bloggers are reflective. Now content doesn't seem to matter at all.
Blogging promotes purposeful thought, while these other social networks seem to be much more spontaneous and reactive. This article also makes me wonder, who listens to podcasts? Since I have a daughter in high school, as well as one in middle school, I am well aware that the younger crowd likes to follow equally young personalities on YouTube. My girls are faithful to an 18-year-old, ambitious fashion advisor, as well as an adolescent, aspiring baker. Goodbye magazines, hello Pinterest and YouTube series.
The tagline for the Alliance of Evangelical's Mortification of Spin podcast is "A Casual Conversation About Things That Count." We're not trying to revolutionize broadcasting or Christian media. But I do think that we are doing our part to save the art of intentional conversation from extinction. While journalism is being reshaped into a medium that is ever-changing and difficult to demarcate, someone needs to keep actual verbal discussion alive.
Now of course, the original hosts are representative of that old, 40-something with kids demographic. But don't hold that against them. Carl and Todd can build an underground bunker held together by gum and paperclips with the best of them (maybe they should make a YouTube how-to). And we may not be very good at taking selfies, but we do have our own shiny app.
The new journalism seems to own the casual element. But so does Todd, as he shows up to record in his Chuck Taylors. Sometimes he forgets about us altogether. But he cares about discussing things that count. Even if it's with a housewife and a guy in tasseled, professor shoes.
And as a bonus, I was able to uncover this clip of Carl and Todd's audition for the show. You don't want to miss it.