The veritable onslaught of social media that’s taken place over the last five years has changed the way we live. Now, we may interact with our friends, online companions and co-workers via messages at 140 characters or less and/or by way of their Wall; if you would have read that line in 2005, it would have sounded as foreign as an alien language might. Now, thanks to the relative prominence of social media, we even interact with the media, with television shows and with big sports events in a different manner. Big games are never broadcast without accompanying information of how to keep up with everything from your favorite player to the favored team via Twitter. And as far as TV shows go, there’s often a Twitter handle at the bottom of the screen reminding you to interact, or a nudge to Like the Facebook page of the show as well.
All of this has taken us in the not-so-slow and steady direction of even more interaction than we ever imagined. Today, we live in a world of user-generated content that makes its way into the commercials we watch and the reality shows we pretend not to like.
Example one comes by way of an ad that we’ll all see during this year’s Summer Olympics (you can watch it here). According to Fast Company, the International Olympic Committee itself ran a user-generated international contest called “Show Your Best,” in which it asked anyone and everyone to film themselves performing an athletic feat to the best of their ability and upload it to the site for a shot at winning a trip to the Olympic Games. What’s more, the Seattle-based ad agency charged with creating the final commercial for the Games has integrated some of these online uploaded videos into an ad that will run during the Olympics, which will inevitably showcase some of those everyday people in their home videos doing what they do best. This is truly user-generated content and it’s truly amazing that some of it will run in an ad for the Games. I remember being a kid (not all that long ago), when camcorders were all the rage yet too expensive for my parents to afford, so my dad would literally rent one for birthday parties of mine so we could have the memories of my silly parties ever preserved. That, I have to say, was just about 16 years ago (not that long), and now look what we have: home videos that are easily filmed on a phone, easily uploaded to a site, and easily incorporated by a major ad agency into an ad that will run during the Olympics. How did things change so fast?
Another example of the blurring of the lines between the general “people” and the media is this: a show called The Glass House that premiered on ABC June 9. The premise of the show is the same as Big Brother; people live together, inevitably create drama that’s interesting enough to draw viewers in, and get voted out. Except this show is a bit different because it operates by way of its viewers and their nudging by way of social media. According to an article about the show:
“Viewers will be encouraged to support and follow the contestants both online and through social media, ultimately casting their votes to help determine who will be sent home and who will return to The Glass House and remain in the game.
In addition to setting the stage for the new reality show, viewers will also be given the chance to watch a live online feed of the players several times a week while The Glass House airs and then vote to decide what the contestants will eat and wear, what games they will play and where they will sleep. Fans will also be able to offer the players feedback on their gameplay, which may affect the contestants’ social strategy.”
Yes — this is really a new show in which viewers vote on what actions the people should take. We live in a brand new kind of world in which you may not be able to actually reach in and touch the contestants through the portal of your TV; but you can use your iPad, laptop or Smart phone to basically do just that.