Subject of interest #191301 – Oh Dearism
“A Short film about how mainstream media simplify complex events and present them as “scattered terrible things happening everywhere, Oh Dear”, leaving the public feeling powerless to do anything about them”
In this post i would like to begin to explore the concept and relationship between the short film by Adam Curtis titled Oh Dearism, (first broadcast in 2009 on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe, in the third episode of the first series) and how todays customers (News Producers) and users (Jo-Publicq) of Social Media companies experience similar techniques.
At the heart of the concept of Oh Dearism is powerlessness, it’s something we all feel when we watch/read/hear a news item on some terrible occurrence. I have felt it and i have seen it in others discomfort, and utter confusion in their powerlessness to do anything about the disaster unfolding in front of them, it’s as if they were right there at the scene of the tragedy but are somehow being pinned down by a great weight – unable to take action, the resulting emotion is dread mixed with defeat.
“Well, what can i do?” …best just switch over the channel – “ah! look Grand Designs!” …aaaand escape.
Our Mirror neurons allow us to transcend time and space through our screens, it’s part of what makes the visual format so stimulating; and why as humans we often spend way too much time transcending time and space, when we ought to perhaps be spending more quality time with loved ones and exploring outside our comfort zone.
Oh Dearism hinges on the premise that i see something… i feel something… i feel i can do… nothing. This is understandable when applied to the one-directional TV format of yesteryear but what about the format of todays… er, year? Social Media, it could be argued is the opposite – all empowering, engaging, all encompassing even! I see something… i feel something… i feel i can do… something. Furthermore it lets us get completely wrapped up in the something we want to do something about, so we do something right?
Subject of interest #1357301 – Pictivism
We’ve all seen it by now, something happens somewhere in the world that reaches the top of the world news agenda for days, sometimes weeks. People feel an emotional reaction and look for solutions on how to signal they care, they see some friends on social media have changed their profile pics to highlight they are thinking about said news item – people join in, resulting in sometimes millions of profile pictures turning a certain color or national flag for a brief time.
The resulting feeling; i did something! – no more Oh Dearism, i can rest easy – i made a change, a contribution, and now all my friends know it – maybe they will also change their profile pictures too and then we can all feel part of this change movement. Result!
Have you changed your profile picture to support a cause? How did it make you feel? Have you done it again since? I am keen to understand the resulting emotion you felt immediately after, 24 hours after, 7 days after etc – did the feeling diminish? When did you change your profile back again? How did you know when you had gotten the change you desired?
Feel free to leave your comment below or tweet me @richtella