Thursday, May 23

Media switching mediums

Movies and pictures on the Internet have become a social experience.

With the writers strike ending and TV returning to a certain state of normalcy, I’ve started to wonder about movies, TV and picture consumption as a social activity. I remember years ago when I went to more movies, and didn’t publicly talk about the hours I spend on Facebook. The availability of these things online has changed the social structure around them.

These days, I spend time centered around a computer on YouTube, trading a hippopotamus with noodles on its back for grape-stomping newscasters and Soulja Boy for skateboarding dogs.

It’s like a create-your-own-adventure book with limitless participatory possibilities.

But is the death of movies marked by the birth of the Internet? I don’t necessarily think so.

“If I know a movie’s going to be really good, I’ll go see it in a theater,” said Sergio Orzynski, a third-year psychology and economics student.

He does, however, watch many movies online, which is not the case for every student.

“I watch YouTube stuff, but I still don’t watch full movies online,” said Rachel Davis, a fourth-year geography/environmental studies student.

I don’t feel that the movie will necessarily be replaced by the YouTube video, but the way we think about both what a movie is and what a user-generated video is, is shifting bit by bit.

Being able to watch movies and TV shows online does remove the time limitations of movie theaters and cable channels. People now can schedule their media consumption around their life, instead of vice-versa.

“I watch all of my TV shows online,” said Ashley Tucker, fourth-year political science student.

She watches NBC, ABC and FOX, when she has time, and also has streaming Netflix for movies.

For Tucker, media has become such a big part of her life, that she will go back home, even when inconvenient, to retrieve headphones so she can use them throughout the day.

Alisa Malki, a second-year international development studies student, would watch movies online if her Internet connection were faster, but does spend time on Facebook with friends.

For her, it is fascinating how integral Facebook has become with our college lives and language, with phrases like “check out his wall.”

And even Facebook has become analogous to the overhead projector in the classroom, creating and allowing supplemental visual information to a social conversation.

Is it an age thing? I’m not sure. Younger and older generations are changing and moving their lives online; I’m just not sure exactly how it’s different than people in my own age group.

When I drive around Los Angeles and find myself in between old movie theaters and new forms of media like LED billboards, I start to wonder where all this technology is going for the future.

Even my computer screen has become a bit like a stage or a movie screen. I fail to see the world around me when I sit down in front of the screen, as I become enveloped in its warm glow.

Hours go by and I sit here in the same way that sitting down in a movie theater, three hours becomes like 5 minutes.

I still go to movie theaters, but more frequently for art shows and music events in old movie theaters downtown. Being inside a movie theater without watching a movie is quite surreal.

Most of the time I spend with media is not in large venues like theaters, but much smaller ones like my living room.

I expect more to close in the future, as movies move online, screens get bigger and Internet connections get faster.

And I know there’s a lot of factors ““ economic, social and technological ““ but I wonder if as many movie theaters would be closed downtown if the Internet didn’t exist or existed without pictures and movies.

I realize that the amount of media we consume isn’t changing, but the venue is.

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