The increasing tempo of media consumption
Does anyone remember when the Energizer Bunny made its TV debut? The incendiary rhythmic beat of the drum has been going and going and going since 1989, translated in viewers’ heads to “buy, buy, buy.”
Yesterday, I saw the latest Energizer campaign – and now the Bunny seems to playing in quadruple time: “Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy,” echoes his drum. In fact, the drumbeat is going so fast, one might wonder: “How fast can the Energizer Bunny beat his drum?
While Energizer batteries clearly have the capacity to power a toy to play a drum very fast, is it possible that the Bunny’s increased drum speed represents something more than a multimillion-dollar ad campaign? Perhaps it represents the rate at which audiences view, absorb and subconsciously expect media to enter their eyes, ears and minds.
If this is true, the Bunny’s accelerating drum surely is exacerbating the rate at which society consumes media. How does this affect our minds when we’re not sitting in front of a television? While you debate how this affects you, the more critical question is: How does this affect your children’s minds? The fast speed of the Bunny’s drum will be normal to them.
While you read this, is your child watching a TV show while playing Nintendo Wii, eating his after-school snack and using his new iPhone at the same time? Is your child channel-surfing at a speed at which you played Hungry Hungry Hippos? As they flip the channels, notice that they understand the information on the channel they just skipped, without having watched more than two seconds of video. The rate at which they understand media is right in line with the beat of the Energizer Bunny’s drum.
How does your child’s understanding and reception of new media affect their perspective on other parts of life? Will board games be too slow? Will self-defined imagination come second to Nintendo Wii because the Nintendo clearly is faster than their own imagination? Will their patience shorten as the Bunny’s drum gets faster? Does the fast drum promote multitasking, impatience or anxiety?
While the Energizer Bunny’s drum surely will get faster in the future, perhaps we should all think about the rate at which we consume media and remember that slowing down to sit by the lake, take a hike or read a book might be just the break we and our brains need from the cacophonous drumbeat of new media that keeps going, going and going: Faster, faster and faster.
– Jonah M. Kessel is the visual director at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 542-8023.
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