The Herman Trend Alert
August 16, 2017
Our New Commentator Culture
Recently, we caught up with Martin McGovern, branding expert, career pathing consultant to Silicon Valley, and sometime futurist. Martin is fascinated by "how people present themselves to the world". We talked about the future of media and social media, in particular.
Exponential rise in commentary videos online
"Everyone wants their voice to be heard", said McGovern, and quickly added,"People don't trust the major media, so they've decided to create their own. "People will comment on the news with their own live or edited video commentary. Then others comment on the commentary in their own live or edited video. And comments go on and on, often devolving into trolling (leaving harsh and negative online comments), until something new happens and everyone jumps to the next shiny new thing.
Behind the new commentator culture: people are worried
Many people are worried about what is going on in their local areas, their capitals, and even in the international scene. There is always something bad happening somewhere in the world, and the information is being shared 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That worry and needing to talk about it to get through the worry is what is fueling their need to comment and be heard.
Watching a video commentary makes us want to comment
After watching a video commentary, we want to take a side and comment. People wanting their voices to be "heard" will naturally begin commenting; that commenting starts the cycle of comments on comments on the comments. When people record these commentaries, it is about what they are interested in and they can choose to spin the message in whatever direction they choose. This choice leads to the importance of everything being documented and filmed---instantly creating a new context for commentary.
Which is "real news"?
When commentary starts with major news media and ends up as comments on a Facebook feed, there is a blurring of lines between the original story and the commentary about it. Often, the commentary becomes more voluminous than the original news piece. And sometimes the commentary can shift focus from the original topic to an entirely different idea.
Spilling from online to offline
Recently, the trend has begun moving from online to offline. With creators trolling other creators in-person, as seen during conferences like VidCon and SXSW. Creators and their followers troll each other in person, record the interactions, and then make more content about the in-person incident---with communities feuding on every side.
A global phenomenon
We live in a time in which worldwide communication can be almost instantaneous. And with the ease of access everyone has a voice, regardless whether the individual is qualified or not. This trend is also moving towards the rise of recording everything and analyzing it afterward, i.e., all recording being released unedited and magnifying the polarized differences. This polarizing is leading to an "outrage culture" in which we feel compelled to comment about what upsets us.
Controls are coming
We've already seen a backlash begin in response to these communities online. Platforms like YouTube are ratcheting up their content policies and beginning to demonetize, or even ban creators for the things they upload. But in the end these actions just adds fuel to the flames, giving everyone more talking points to take sides on, create content around, and leave their opinions in the comments.
Where will it end?
We believe that eventually people will get burned out and turn away from the self-created chaos. However, do not expect that to happen soon.
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