In a past post, I discussed the emerging digital environments embedded into our every day, and how multi-screening has altered the course of our time spent and the way we move through space. Yes, there have been governments, corporations, higher powers and dark overlords overseeing this use and providing self-beneficiary regulations for us to all follow, but there is something much more interesting going on here. Something we might not speak about and certainly might not consciously do in the name of screen regulation. Self-regulation.
Let’s get personal. We can read all the academic studies and statistics we want, it might miss the mark of a huge sector of audience behaviour such as this, that might go unrecognised in traditional and formal studies. I for one, know several friends and celebrities who have their own form of self-regulation to limit excessive phone usage or screen time, including rewarding yourself with a single episode on Netflix, switching mobile devices to aeroplane mode after 9 pm to ensure healthy sleep habits, and categorising apps into folders that can be used with WIFI and those that cannot, in order to preserve data consumption. This conscious management of time and space spent in the digital media place is a direct result of growing self-awareness and the fear of over-consumption and loss of depth. Self-policies are bypassing the power of higher authority to regulate and dictate what we consume and puts marketers at risk of turmoil when their campaigns are not even offered the opportunity to engage with users. This regulatory effort has the power of an upstream appeal and could be implemented from below governing bodies.
While governments may attempt to regulate our consumption, production and sharing, the self-management of media time clocked is fascinating; worthy of ethnography and an important consideration in audience research for marketers and digital content producers. What happens when the media is voided in the user’s mind before it even has the option to demand attention? What happens when we become the person who decides what we see, when we see it, and where?