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  • Writer's pictureAvery Walker

The Future of Media


 

My first instinct when asked the question “What will media be like in the year 2043?' was to envision the future by extrapolating from the current state of media. If our attention spans continue to shrink, in 2043, all media may have to abbreviate itself, and slow and steady stories could become extinct. If social media influencers’ reign persists, there will be no more traditional advertising, no more traditional pop stars (as the current path to musical fame often begins on TikTok), and no more truly 'social' media, as it will be completely oversaturated by influencer marketing. With hands-free phones already being developed using VR or high-tech glasses, by 2043, we might witness the prevalence of hands-free everything, reminiscent of the hover chairs in Wall-E that rendered moving your body obsolete. These predictions evoke palpable concern among modern people due to their proximity to our current reality. Realistically, we could reach our ceiling on these issues sooner than 2043. To that end, within twenty years, an evolution or cycle could very well have occurred.

As represented by the Uses and Gratifications Theory, gaps in our psychological needs give us a reason to use media, as we feel we have gained something from the experience. Digital trends can progress to a point where they start to consume themselves and fall out of favor. People become weary of the downsides and yearn for something else—often inspired by a sentimental memory of the 'good old days' or a simpler time in the past compared to our current reality. And the cycle repeats.

In a race to keep up with the attention economy, the acceleration of media content—quicker, faster, and in overwhelming quantity—will inevitably lead us to a tipping point. The relentless pace will wear on people, and once so enticing, the digital culture will grow tired, old, and outdated, losing its marketability and profitability. Companies will be compelled to follow the trends dictated by viewership and preferences as consumers become more conscious of their role in shaping the digital economy, reflecting the reciprocal relationship highlighted by Baudrillard's simulacra theory.

The adverse effects on our psyche from current media tactics may propel us toward a heightened consumer consciousness, prompting a closer understanding of simulacrum. As our psychological needs face continued neglect, the quest for gratification and fulfillment will reemerge, driving a search for substantial change. Similar to the surge in popularity of thrifting and vintage shopping, there will be a renewed appetite for craftsmanship that connects us to human care, a yearning for community lost in the absence of third places, and proper free time unburdened by constant media saturation and workplace intrusions.

We find ourselves nostalgic for a time when every day wasn't deliberately overstimulating and anxiety-inducing. Eventually, influencer culture and the frenetic pace of attention-grabbing media will become not only annoying but offensive to our intelligence, labeled as "cringe," marking a swift descent into digital obsolescence in the realm of media marketing.

My vision is ultimately a hopeful one. Admittedly, I constantly ask myself when something will start to give in the current digital era. Two contrasting theories emerge – one resembling a Wall-E-esque future and the other suggesting a 'return to nature' twist. It is a stark choice between extremes, and envisioning a happy medium in these intense times is challenging. So, like the cycle of psychological needs, my brain is tired of how it is now, so that must mean doing a 180 will be just the trick. 

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