I suppose to have the proper context while reading this post, you need to know I’m 51 years old. In the age of technology and social media, I’m pretty ancient. For the record, I feel like I’m 31 and act like I’m 21. Or 12. If someone were to say “act your age,” I’d say “which age?” Regardless, I’m savvy enough to utilize technology, social media and digital offerings in various degrees of engagement suitable for my needs and interest while admitting I probably only use 12% of my MacBook’s capabilities and even less of my smart phone. I’ve cut social media down to nearly zero usage (still gotta roll with it for work though). And yeah, I like to say ‘world wide web’ and ‘interwebz’ because I think I’m funny, not because I’m techno-clueless.
There are countless articles and debates about the pros and cons of social media and how technology affects everyday life for children and adults of all ages. In the tech realm, I am fascinated that advancement and innovation have happened so fast that some online entities have gone way of the pay phone, the ‘roll down your car window’ pantomime and Blockbuster Video stores. I’m talking about you AOL, MySpace and perhaps Facebook is next?
Personally, I find Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat to be anti-social social media. Is anyone really engaging with genuine back and forth communication or is it a popularity contest and validation game? With that said, there are tremendous positive attributes of those apps and this blog isn’t about their pros and cons.
Rather, this post is about how some things in the media landscape have come back around full circle, or at least have resurfaced after a decade or two of severe decline. I’m talking about you daily city newspapers, books, magazines, the television set and the good old car radio and home stereo. Many newspapers are long gone, plenty of magazines are either defunct or have switched to lower frequency and way less pages, the TV set is just one of numerous vehicles for delivering content, radio is battling streaming audio services, some children don’t know how to read a real book without ‘swiping,’ and I could go on and on…
But wait, there’s hope! Have you seen the new Rolling Stone Magazine format? True they have moved to a monthly distribution but they also went back to tabloid style and have done so on a high-end style of paper that is super-pleasing. I’m loving the presentation of the photography, the feel of the pages and of course the quality journalism is still there.
How about vinyl? There’s nothing like leafing through a friend’s record collection from college and laughing at their poor taste and enjoying their good stuff – on a phonograph! I saw mix-tapes for sale for a dollar at a vintage shop on Broadway. Who knew your love songs to your high school sweetheart would be worth a buck to someone forty years later. What about listening to a ballgame on the radio? The crackle of live radio just can’t be replicated on Pandora and Spotify.
Big box book stores are nearly extinct but the ‘support local’ movement seems to be going strong in the world of Amazon and tablets. I want to buy a book at the Book Bar and dog-ear my pages, bring my book to the beach and loan it out to a friend when I’m done. It feels nostalgic to unfold a Wall Street Journal at lunch time and wrestle with the pages while making space for my soup and salad.
As I type this blog on my laptop, I’m thinking about the letters I plan on writing to my friends this week. As my smartphone buzzes at me with text notifications, I look forward to connecting with that person over a beer after work. As I listen to streaming music on my wireless earbuds, I look forward to the live concert I’m attending on Thursday. As my email clutter box is full of newsletters and breaking news, I look forward to the next issue of Rolling Stone hitting the newsstands and picking up the community newspaper tossed on my front stoop.
If you want to market to my teenage boys that have virtually no expendable income, go ahead and buy ads on Instagram, SnapChat and Programmatic Digital Networks. As my boys get older though, perhaps they will also get disenchanted with the lack of genuine and meaningful engagement from the digital world and high-technology. Right now, their nostalgia is Pokemon cards and stuffed animals, but someday they will likely appreciate records, books, newspapers, magazines and an old transistor radio.
I believe there is plenty of room for the ‘old’ and ‘nostalgic’ media to coexist and even thrive with the world of screens. I believe the savvy marketers will stop interrupting online and will instead find better ways to add value, both digitally and offline. I may not have walked to school uphill barefoot in the snow, but I sure can appreciate and connect to the more authentic and genuine media vehicles out there, much more so than a Tweet. Join the old school movement!