This is a typical weekend of my family—grandpa reading newspaper, grandma listening to radio, papa browsing web pages, mama reading an electronic book, and I, watching short videos on apps such as Douyin, Kuaishou and Weibo.
The scenario probably looks alike in many families, which is certainly a miniature of media evolution.
New media impacts drastically on people’s life whenever it emerges. Thanks to evolving science and technology, new media has been mushrooming although traditional media lives on. Actually, the era when everything is media has already arrived, and the new media itself has become a fashion, a new trend. Electronic books and websites could be considered unprecedented breakthroughs compared with printed books and newspapers, but people swiftly shift their attention from newspapers and radio broadcasts to television, the internet and smartphones. Text-oriented reading has transitioned to picture-oriented, and then to video-oriented, which is probably happening.
Han Han wrote this in the article Broken Pieces—broken information is increasing around me, news becoming more eye-catching and topics turning more diverse; everything comes fast and also vanishes fast, which gives me a feeling that a few hours of sleep would cut me off the world, and one single day with my phone off would end with me abandoned by human beings. Short videos do provide a more fashionable, interesting and diverse channel for us to reach information, but this channel is a more broken, accelerated and entertained one. The emerging variety of short video platforms enables almost everyone to become online celebrities, live stream broadcasters or short video uploaders, and thus generating burgeoning videos. Though we should look at and take in new things with a positive mind and tolerance, but short videos still has a long way to go. Many trending short videos are just meaningless spoof, poor imitation, or putting on quite a show. Some video makers even produce sensitive content just to win more views and enjoy being a celebrity. What is terrible is that the audiences take them all, and end up spending more and more time playing those videos, some even fall addicted.
Technically, video-oriented reading is one step forward for media evolution, but we have to admit that no substantial progress has been made since people are wasting too much reading time on useless short videos. I hope after explosive growth, short videos will become more regulated, optimistic and meaningful, rather than only entertaining, as the industry matures. After all, the true value of new media does not lie in how new it is but what it could bring to us.
Where is the new media heading for when smartphones become universal, video-oriented reading is happening, and AI is more widely applied? No answer yet. However, there will be one as media keeps evolving. Perhaps years later, when I was watching short videos on apps such as Douyin, Kuaishou and Weibo on some weekend, my son would glance at me with contempt, and wear on his VR headset to immerse in a then most popular interactive film where he could play a part in the plot.