Black Tuesday was the day that all fighters for freedom of speech and democracy wore black in protest of The Protection of Information Bill in the hope that a public interest clause would be added to the document before it became law. The actions of these brave people weren’t enough to sway the decision of the Government in favour of keeping the media free and sadly the dream of the South African democracy was a thing of the past. It did however highlight the shift in thinking that we are experiencing in South Africa and the World in relation to inclusivity and unified thought.
Today sees the launch of Rolling Stone Magazine South Africa and what I hope will be the first step in us forming a sense of what popular culture consists of in The Republic. Traditionally, the magazine is aimed at featuring everything from young visionaries and icons to politics and movies and aims to deliver the best possible representation of pop culture and public opinion- something that is evident with the choice of Hugh Masekela as the image for the first edition’s cover.
Today is the age of social media and development of popular culture that is for the first time representative of all parts of the globe thanks to the internet. Social Media has allowed us to create amazing domains for idea exchange and consumption of media and culture. The unified opinions and sharing of experiences and thoughts through social media allowed countries like Egypt to topple entire regimes. The influence that we have on each other is obvious. All you have to do is look around this particular page to see the all of the auto-suggestion going on while you read and interact with us. It has become common place for content, media and societal norms to be determined by the input and needs of those that consume it. And so it should be. If you are not able to interact with media (or government for that matter) and shape your experience of the world both online and when you’re unplugged (although we’re never really unplugged anymore) then we are not yet where we should be.
There are a couple of individuals in the online industry, particularly within the bloggin fraternity-
I use the term loosely as everyone who’s nobody has a blog these days– that have done exceeding well to build a very positive internet brand with significant followings. Having a good brand or product, complete with a loyal following is one thing but translating this to real world gains is the real crux and measurement of success. The guys and girls that have become aware of this fact and have managed to make this connection in a way where social media and public input and opinion still allows them to stay marketable have essentially shaped a new form of hyper-entrepreneur. They are the new rockstars. Able to influence popular culture with relative ease and turn this into monetary gain.
They’re hanging out in the trendiest places, eating, drinking and doing what, according to popular culture, you should be doing- displayed in high megapixel glory all over the internet and are accessible from almost everywhere in the planet. What makes them different to the young visionaries or icons of the past is the fact that a great deal of what they do is directly influenced by the public who enjoy voyeuristically consuming bits of these internet stars lives. And I mean literally influenced by clicking “like” or retweeting a link. So are these not then the most accurate depictions of popular culture and the quest to what is as close to one singular thought pattern across the globe as we can get?
Whether this is the case will be seen in publications like Rolling Stone South Africa and how they choose their content along with which individuals feature on the covers in editions to come. I think the people who intrigue and influence us the most are those that have stories much like our own. They are going to be the new rockstars. However that’s if we still have the right to engage in social media, share opinion and blog in South Africa. Yup, don’t think that we wont eventually be controlled here too- The Secrecy Bill is only the beginning.
While we wait to see how everything pans out, swing me another beer or two so I can write my next post.