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We Are The Margin Scribblers: Part 1

It wouldn’t be groundbreaking to write an article about the saturation of media in our society today. It’s everywhere, and where it’s not, there are articles discussing the fact that it is everywhere.

And it is. They’re right.

For those between the age brackets, the long-since teen and not-yet fully established house-owning adult like me, it is old news. Very old news. Its why-is-this-even-news news.

This ‘media’ we’re all knee-deep in proclaims us as ‘digital natives’, the ‘tech-generation’ and other such slightly tedious titles – but I’d speculate, however tentatively, that we’re most simply people like everyone else. We’re just an age bracket trying to readjust to what is in front of us, trying to replace what is before us with something better, something (as we are always hearing) our parents didn’t have. And what is an ever-changing source of news is how these new levels of media saturation are influencing our development as a social economy.

While watching is something we are great at and do frequently (9 hours a day according to a recent survey) we, as a generation, are perhaps the first to not solely watch. It is the age of ‘leaning in’, an age where we can no longer coin our relationship to media as a ‘spectator sport’. If I were to force a title from myself I would call it more of a ‘Lego’ approach. Build your own consumption parameters.

By the age of thirteen my peers and I were happily editing the html coding of our  Myspace profiles, motivated by the indignity stirred by the originally limited choice of layouts that were on offer. Customising your Myspace profile with basic web coding came as naturally to us as creating mix tape cassettes did to those in the generation before ours. While the teens of the 80s laddered and tore their tights to Madonna, we hummed as we inched our ‘about me’ box to the right and picked out the perfect CSS colour code for our background. We swapped pinning safety pins to our school bags for pinning GIFs to our profiles. As such, this ‘tear-and-repair’ method of communication gave us an interesting perspective on the idea of ‘projecting’.

No longer witchcraft, the ‘majesty’ of the printed page became the vast coding combinations of the internet. Before the reign of Amazon, before Kobo, before Nook, we had been lifting our sharpies to the cyber-chasm before us. We had been raised by the platforms we used to make our marks, however cavalier.

And now, from my corner of the internet at least, I can see that those learned behaviours haven’t left us – however dormant they might seem at times. We too harbour scepticism about the hocus-pocus of the media, often choosing to hide ourselves in code-built dens and thumb painted stripes on our now adult cheeks. We’re not buying newspapers, we resist buying TV licenses as if they carry STIs, we don’t even ‘hang around’ on Facebook like we used to (this timing may or may not correlate directly with the point at which our parent’s generation finally worked out how to create their own profiles and spy on us  – that online photo album ‘TENERIFE ’08 BITCHES’ from University doesn’t look as wise as it once did).

While the ‘global’ rages around our doors, the concept of the local has been recreated for us online. In our ‘local’ we don’t just speculate – we regurgitate. From tweets to fan fiction, to tumblr discussion and online petition, we are in a constant conversation with ourselves, perpetual rapport with our environment, our media, our peers.

We are the margin scribblers.

In light of this, perhaps we can hold the ever-rising popularity of interactive review and ‘curating’ book sites like Goodreads against the recent cancellation of Sky’s well known book programme Mariella’s Book Show and make some sense of what is before us. The format of television that was once the norm is perhaps waning against the current of expectation from those my age – those now in their early twenties, the demographic expected to provide the next bout of television license fund money … if only we were offered in exchange a real platform to converse.

The lesson to learn from the communities and (ex-television) viewerships, now taking to interactive social media, is clear: yes, we’d love to see some media that covers the topics of literature and book-culture in the new age – but you will find that we have an awful lot to say back.

Leave us space for conversation or we will not use the space at all. Let it be a warning – create for us a cool den, a den of information and content but above all discussion– or we will go and code our own.

Read Leena’s second post on what readers want from book centric media here.

By night Leena runs the youtube channel ‘justkissmyfrog’ and accompanying blog  – by day she is the Digital Sales & Marketing Executive at Icon Books.


Image © Penn Provenance

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