My view of the mainstream media is not something I tend to hold back on. Anyone who has had anything more than a cursory glance at this blog knows my low opinion of the vast majority of the financial and general media. I have little time or respect for people who did media studies and spent 3 years watching tv to earn a degree. So it was with some trepidation that earlier in the week I attended a media and business workshop. The aim of this workshop was to enable business to get an understanding of how media works and to meet representatives from the legacy media organisations such as print, radio and television. Right there you can see a problem – these are legacy content platforms that are rapidly being displaced by their more nimble and more niche digital competitors. Facebook and other platforms now extend their reach to more individuals than any traditional form of media ever did. Yet despite this development there was no one at the meeting from any of the newer forms of communication.
The day began with a panel Q&A session and the beginning of this session saw each of the participants try and outdo each other as to how early they got up and how much work they did. It was very reminiscent of the wonderful Monty Python sketch called The Four Yorkshiremen . Once the dick contest of the various introductions was out of the way it was on to the Q&A session and most of the questions were fairly innocuous such as how to get in contact with the media, what form should the approach take and how it should be structured. Then Gary Stone of Share Wealth Systems asked a very important question, he questioned as to how much of a show such as the Channel 9 Today show was devoted to serious evergreen issues such as the perennial problem of home ownership and the producer from the show proudly trumpeted that they set aside 3.5 minutes each morning for such issues. In that simple statement the irrelevancy of mainstream media was brilliantly encapsulated. A show that runs for 210 minutes proudly devotes 1.6% of its time to something serious. Granted morning television is aimed at a certain demographic and in my eyes seems to have its content based around generating bogan outrage, what toilet paper third rate celebrities use or general gossip. And I accept that there will always be more stupid people than smart people so they have to have something to watch whilst Rome burns because it is very much a give them games so they are distracted from reality.
I spent the rest of the morning wondering if dinosaurs knew they were on the verge of extinction but more importantly whether any of us know when we are also on the cusp of irrelevancy either in our work, our relationships or even our own lives. If there was an overarching theme of the morning for me it was irrelevancy and how it seems to creep up on not only institutions but also individuals and I began to think of the times when either I had become irrelevant in a given situation or when things had become irrelevant to me. The central thread through all of these events in my own life was that I hadn’t really noticed the drift towards becoming irrelevant. The realisation that you are only tangential or peripheral to a situation comes as a sort of a ha moment but one that comes after the event. It was somewhat akin to everyone else getting the joke whilst you stand there scratching your head going I don’t get it. The only rationale I could come up with for this was that because you are wrap up in events you find it hard to take a more global view of what is occurring, your view of things is obscured by the noise of your own participation
The lesson for me from the morning was to be more mindful of the things that go on around me so that you don’t drift into irrelevancy.