Thursday, June 4, 2015

Drunken Thoughts: Tiananmen Square and social media

If you were to ask me, "Chris, what are some of the downfalls of drinking to excess?" I could begin listing off a number of things. I've personally experienced several of them. On the flip side of that, if you were to ask what some of the positives of drinking can be, I would give you two answers:

1) I can occasionally appear charming to girls.

2) I get unexpected waves of creativity and I start writing stuff down.

Right now, we're going to talk about number two. And that is mostly because we actually have proof of that one. Number one is more along the lines of a theory in my head.

Today, I woke up and began checking Twitter. I found one post noting that June 4 was the 26th anniversary of what happened at Tiananmen Square, in China. If you don't know about it, just google it. If you haven't seen the iconic photograph of the kid and the tank, then you just don't realize it... because you have seen it.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and that was a more "celebration-worthy" year, as there was a lot of media coverage and special events. So far, aside from the one twitter mention, I have yet to see anything more about today.

I watched a lot of this last year and it got me thinking. The image of that kid and the tank was in my head. I was having a few imbibing beverages and I started thinking about how quickly the news cycle is these days; how something big is over once the 24-hour news networks move onto something else. I started thinking about social media and how everybody can be an amateur journalist as long as they have their phone with them. And then I started writing. What came out was the picture at the top. 

My handwriting and my attitude have one thing in common when I begin drinking: they both get really sloppy. So, I've transcribed the picture for you below:
"Hypnotize," SOAD
Idea to use that song on a podcast to talk about how social media has ruined photography as an art. What do we remember about Tiananmen Square? Just the one iconic picture of the kid and the tanks. In today's world we'd have 100 Facebook & Twitter pictures of that moment from these different angles. Since we've just had that one iconic moments it has lasted longer in the worldwide lexicon. Is this a problem? Were Twitter & Facebook around in 1989, would it have taken 20+ years for that memory to be fully understood and appreciated? Or would it have led to bigger changes at the moment? What moments that have become "hashtag moments" in the last 6 years could have become iconic instead of being forgotten once they stopped trending?
And that is what my drunken mind came up with late one night in 2014. The System Of A Down song, "Hypnotize," mentions Tiananmen Square. I've shown a couple people these thoughts before and they have seemed to agree with me. I guess where I was going with that was to look at how iconic that one picture is and explore if iconic pictures can happen today with so much social media and smart phones around?

How different would we look at Tiananmen Square if we had 1000 pictures from different angles, a bunch of YouTube videos of the incident and people reacting to it, and everything else? 

I don't know. Just something I pondered late one night last year and was reminded of again today.

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