Feeds

Maddy: TV torture for the ADD generation

'This is awful. I can't stop watching'

Top three mobile application threats

Most grippingly of all, we have no idea what genre of story we are watching, so have no idea how or when it might end. To an extent, the same was true of the hit American drama Lost. But reality TV from the news department is always a one-off - there will be no sequel.

In view of this, newspapers desperately seek to juggle several potential plots at once. There is one in which the parents are villains, another in which the police are incompetent, and another in which Madeleine is still alive. If and when the story ends, it will make a lousy film, because by then the suspense of wondering what sort of story it is will have been lost.

TV torture

What this amounts to is a form of S&M for the me-driven media generation. Stories that I consume when I like, or I participate in on my terms, or I create using my camera leave us feeling listless and empty after a while.

As the German philosopher Theodor Adorno observed of Hollywood in the 1940s, the entertainment industries deliver exactly what we expect them to, and thereby deliver us nothing at all. True culture, in Adorno's estimation, has to disappoint or frustrate us.

What the McCann drama demonstrates is a bizarre longing for stories that aren't easily consumable and are indifferent to what we expect of them. For sure, the characters are good looking - our desire for media S&M hasn't yet reached the heights of wanting to look at ugly people - but most of the time there is nothing going on at all.

Could this be a trend for the digital age? The assumption that the user is acquiring ever greater power over content production and consumption may well be true, but the question is whether we necessarily want all that power.

Some people find wildlife programmes therapeutic, precisely because they feel so irrelevant. Others revel in the glorious monotony of five day cricket matches.

Once the McCann frenzy dies down, many will find an empty space in their lives. At that point, a canny TV company should go looking for a news story, whose nature is unclear, and whose rhythm and conclusion are blissfully insulated from the demands of ego-driven consumers. ®

William Davies is a sociologist and policy analyst. His weblog is at Potlatch.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.