Media Madness

Imagine my surprise when at holiday dinner last week, my own father dropped Wikipedia into casual conversation. My father, whose e-mailing abilities are primitive at best. My father, who dials each digit rather than program his cell phone. My father, who would sooner pick up quill and parchment than a palm pilot or Bluetooth.

My father, the new shining beacon of hipness in a media-obsessed global climate.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who’s taking notice of this omnipresent media madness.

Time Magazine recently declared that the person of the year is “You, for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game.”

Their decision to honor all of us media-mongers in this way seems entirely too appropriate. While incredibly specific and even personal, this “you” they refer to is also completely anonymous. In their own way, they have tied us all together as a community while simultaneously setting each of us apart.

As sites like Wikipedia, Facebook and MySpace facilitate this same community and help us connect with each other, there seems an equal but opposite quest for individuality, freedom of expression and uniqueness among bloggers, YouTubers, and text messagers everywhere.

Is this the new American Dream or just the same old quest reincarnated? Are we defining a new cultural identity, or is it defining us? Is this strength in numbers or the power of one?

And where, if anywhere, do conservation and the environment fit in? I am convinced that nature does not preclude technology and that instead of paradoxical forces they can be effective allies. If we are really at the reins of this media revolution, why don’t we seize the opportunity and take it where we want it to go? It is becoming increasingly clear that if we don’t do it, no one will and if we don’t do it together, our individual efforts may not be enough.

As person of the year, I am determined to use my powers for good and not evil. How about you?