Later this month my wife and I will spend a weekend camping with a group of our friends having fun, sharing stories, tubing down a river numerous times then remembering the next morning how much less we used to hurt in our younger years.
Camping. The one weekend a year my wife and I do anything at all like this. The only weekend that we dust off the tent and make sure we have the inflatable mattress to try and get something resembling a good night sleep. It’s also the one weekend a year that the readout on my phone reads “No Connection Available”.
We just spent a day at the site we’ll be using shortly, visiting my in laws while they do a two week camping trip of their own. During the lulls of the day the reflex to check twitter, Facebook, email or texts was met with that message of rejection every single time. Instead, my father in law handed me a copy of the Sun, and for the first time in close to a decade, I read the newspaper.
I remembered how to do it. After all, my parents subscribed to that same paper while I was growing up, but I had to laugh at how alien it felt. I used to pore over the baseball box scores on a daily basis to keep up with what was happening in the majors. I didn’t recognize any of the comic strips at the back of the paper but a lot of the headlines looked familiar as many of those stories were ones I had seen online the day before.
Newspapers, radio and television had established a long term time share when it came to the topics that people would discuss around the water cooler. Then the internet arrived and evolved. While I sat and read that paper I reflected at how quickly I had moved away from reading the Sun when I moved out, not bothering to subscribe myself. I rarely ever watch the news on TV or tune into anything on the radio other than music or sporting events. I don’t have a single news outlet website bookmarked and only end up on their pages if I’m linked through something I see on Facebook or twitter.
When we got home, my curiosity piqued, I looked over the list of people I follow on Facebook and twitter. Of the 126 accounts that I follow, only 22 are people that are paid to report news themselves. The rest are either unpaid bloggers or professionals of other sorts that I have some sort of interest in to follow. Out of the people I follow on twitter, I’m rarely caught by surprise during a conversation when the hot topics of the day are brought up.
As technology progresses and we have near immediate access to the latest happenings worldwide, I can’t help but feel for the old guard. When I follow a link to an article on a newspaper site and I’m greeted by a pop up saying something like “Thank you for visiting our site, enjoy your first of four free articles this month before registration is required.”, it’s a reminder that while technology keeps moving forward, the older methods are forced to adapt or die.
In August last year, Parse.ly published a report showing that Facebook accounting for 43% of the traffic to their network of media sites, surpassing Google who came in at 38%. Their collection of sites included more than 400 major news and media outlets (both print and digital) with around 6 billion page views and over 1 billion unique visitors per month. So even in the digital world, we’re seeing more and more people following the posts, tweets and various other ways of socially sharing stories rather than having to search them out ourselves.
So my question to you the reader is, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the world today?