Consumption Theory: Social Media vs Private Media


Experience IMAX 3D and the ultimate home theater experience in surround sound and Ultra-HD. Welcome to the world of blogs and microblogs, of forums and comment sections where everything is about trending and tagging; tweeting and trolling; searching and snapchatting; installing and instagramming; logging in and never signing out.

In the age of the spinning wheel, the beep-beep-bops, and the dot-dot-dots, this is the era of the viral state of mind—the mass consumption of social media.

Now right off the bat let me just say that I’m all for social media. I like blogs, facebook, youtube, etc. I think they’re wonderful and I believe that Gary Vaynerchuck was right when he said that we are now living in “the second industrial revolution.” But amidst these technological tectonic shifts in our reality, it just seems to me that something is lacking. Like an obese person looking at himself in the mirror for the first time in many years, we are beginning to recognize something we have been neglecting. And that is our poor diet of private media. 

But what is private media?

Simply put, private media is media that we consume privately. Converse to social media—where opinions and inferences are collectively formed and acquired socially—private media is initially disseminated without external interference. That is, it is first processed independently before outside contamination or filtration. In short: reading books.

In my opinion, books are the last private medium that is dreamed, deliberated and distilled in proper form. After all, you don’t consume books in a theater, gallery, concert, or online thread together with everyone else. You can’t walk or talk or drive while reading a book; instead you have to spend time, alone and focused. Of course you can definitely go to a reading, but readings are not really reading on your part; it’s more listening, sampling. Now some may argue that music can also be a form of private media, and I must agree that it is indeed a hybrid. One can definitely enjoy music privately and meditatively, not to mention the ambidexterity of audio books. But the thing about auditory media is that they are often consumed while doing something else. Reading books on the other hand is purely private—you can’t be in any way distracted otherwise whatever you are reading won’t register.

Now you’ve heard it many times before. You can always tell someone who doesn’t read. Why?

Well, because such persons carry the same thoughts and perspectives as the mainstream culture (or even in the counter-culture). Whether they be conservatives, liberals, independents, or just plain couldn’t-give-a-fucks, they always have bite-sized, pre-packaged talking points and buzz words they subscribe to—ie shit you’ve heard before. Also you can recognize them in any interaction because they are a copy-of a copy-of a copy of a person you’ve seen or met before. They parrot and mime down to the mannerisms of favor and outrage, and they never form their own ideologies because all they have are unedited and unverified opinions—predictions and projections chewed and digested by others.

To be clear, as I’ve stated before, I am against any form of censorship. Censorship is evil, but I also think editing is divine. And this is where books come in.

Granted there will always be shitty books, but the great majority (whether it be fiction or non-fiction) do not contain artificial sweeteners or intellectual fat. It takes more brain calories to process because it is not meant to be mental fast-food. It is not your regular pre-cooked, ready-made, drive-thru over-the-counter antidepressants. And that means it will require that god-awful word, that epicenter of fear that modern humans recoil from: effort.

Compared to everything else, consuming books is simply “time-consuming;” and that is a problem in our fast-paced society. In a fact-based world, I agree with what filmmaker Werner Herzog said, that “fact-based truths are the accountant’s truth.” It may be what everybody else believes in, but it is not your private truth. It is not the truth that illuminates and pacifies you with substance. It is not the truth that you discover for yourself—the ones that inspire you and changes you, the truth that serves as the striptease for the brain and the atom bomb for the heart. Instead it is just the truth that gets you by long enough until the next one comes and starts trending again—a routinely misapplied temporary concern and blithe.

But that’s how it is. Private media is also personal media, and therefore it will always be a personal choice.

In the end you have to decide for yourself.

Take your pick but consume with caution.





  1. ” You can always tell someone who doesn’t read. ”
    Totally! Or someone who had read a book only AFTER it’s movie is out.

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