-TRYING TO FIND A VOICE IN THE STATIC-
We can all cast our mind back to as far in its recesses as it will allow us to delve in our memory. What we dig up is unique to ourselves, and usually nothing particularly interesting. When I dig through the memory banks I recall sitting on the ground, in front of our television, staring intensely at the static, trying to decipher it. My mother remembers it quite clearly too. I had fallen out of my bed bang on my head and given my tiny brain a concussion. Upon coming home form the hospital the only thing that stopped me crying was the tiny flicker od mismatched black, grey and white ants scurrying across the screen in no particular order, in no particular fashion, with no set course in order. In my mind, I think perhaps I was attempting to find their direction. Too see a pattern. To find the voice the screen was trying to scream at me. This first memory of my interaction with media really sets the scene with my relationship to media still today. I can sit and consume and participate while millions of black, white and grey ants bellow all around me. I’m still intently staring, listening, and watching- looking for a pattern, trying to discover the, method to the madness. Trying to find the voice in the static.
-OLDER THAN THE INTERNET-
I am the oldest of my siblings- the youngest being 18 years my junior. He caught me looking at my ever-receding hairline in the mirror.
“You are getting old mate”.
As all little brothers do, loving the chance to get a jab in at his older brother.
“Do you realise how old I actually am? I am older than the internet.”
The teenage boy was astonished. He has 2,872 Facebook friends. The idea that life without the Internet was unfathomable.
The media space around him centers on not only what he is consuming, but what he and his ‘friends’ and producing, and the conversations they are having by sharing. For him, the media is a social space. While the thought of life with no internet for him is shocking, I can’t remember a time without television. I can’t close my eyes and think back to a day without the television in the lounge room. The furniture all spaced around it, and the screen being given priority of the room- the centre piece of the house.
So I asked the generation in front of me. My parents were around at the dawn of television becoming an normality in Australian homes. It was my grandparents who had witness the change in the home and reorganisation of the domestic space.
Her memory of the arrival of television was that of excitement for her, but the adults in the house had some trepidation. The moral panics of new mediums that were realized in their household as fear of radiation- perhaps due to awareness of Hiroshima- and the television was to be only viewed from safe distance (Livingston 2009, p.3). This fear was not present in the consumption of media through the ‘wireless. (This fear may have never left her as I can recall as a child her telling me not to sit to close to the television- ‘or else you will get square eyes!’.)
I have found the answers to the questions of early memories of television fascinating, and I started asking everyone. Co-workers. Friends. Family. All responses were unique, yet themes started emerging. Namely that depending on the age of the respondent some world event seemed to impact them, and the information was administered via television. All events that ‘awoke’ them to the reality of the world-
The Moon Landing. (male 62)
The Fall of the Berlin Wall. (male, 33)
Vietnam. (female 53)
The Twin Towers. (male 23)
Princess Diana. (female, 26)
All events that were consumed together as a family, or perhaps more accurately: as a community. Internet use at home has negative impacts on time spent with family (Nie & Hillygus 2002, p.2), where as the answers to questions about television do not seem to suggest that television consumption has had the same effect.
What this says to me, is that television as a medium has formative role in our lives. We still retain a level of importance and trust in the information we receive from it- I believe because it is consumed in a social way. Despite the trend of consuming media more and more online- television is still dominant (Oztam Q1 2015 Report). We still place the television in the centre of our lives, if not in our homes.
Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children’, The Annals of
the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 625 . pp. 151-163.
Nie, N & Hillygus, D2002, ‘The Impact of Internet Use of Sociability: Time-DIary Findings’, IT& Society, vol1, no.1, pp1-20.
OZTAM 2015, ‘Australian Multi-Screen Report’Quarter 1′, http://www.oztam.com.au/documents/Other/MultiScreenReport_Q1-2015-Final%20amended%20P7.pdf