As I snuggled into bed on this past week’s snowy Wednesday evening I realized I forgot to watch the President’s Speech in Tucson. Fortunately my smartphone was charging nearby so I opened my YouTube app and caught up on my current events. I smiled to myself as I thought of the iconic images of past Presidential speeches, families gathered around the radio waiting with bated breath over crackling speakers. Not quite the same scene today is it?
This got me thinking. First of all it’s incredible that we live in an age with such a wealth of information that I knew beyond a doubt that the video would already be uploaded, in HD quality of course, to YouTube if not several other sites. I spoke with a friend about this idea and she told me she had gotten stuck at work but followed live-bloggers on Twitter during the speech and eventually went to WhiteHouse.gov to live stream the video to her desk.
While in general I see this information overload as a privilege of our generation I couldn’t help but wonder, are we missing unifying moments as a nation because of convenience? My parents always watched Presidential speeches as a family and when the news came on at 6:00 PM they say, “you either saw it or you didn’t no DVR-ing broadcasts like you do.” I know I’ll never forget the pure horror I felt on 9/11 as I watched the live broadcasts of the twin towers falling, but I took some solace in the fact that I knew the whole nation was watching, and we all felt the same way.
That being said, social media allows each and every one of us to connect personally to news, and to borrow Twitter’s slogan, now we can ‘join the conversation’.
So what do you think? Are we sacrificing a human connection for convenience? Or perhaps with our ability to be a part of the news on our own terms now maybe we’re more unified than ever.