The digital space is noisy, overwhelming and increasingly toxic; we have to fight in every way to be heard. We’re fighting ourselves, our competitors and dog pictures. In 2017, we’ll also be fighting the active disengagement from our previously FOMO-loaded audiences. Trump’s victory stunned more people than it did not, and as fake news and social feeds are increasingly being seen as the cause for it, audiences are consciously stepping away from them.
I know more and more people who are giving themselves “screen-time” rules. No screens for an hour before bed, no notifications on weekends, no responding to emails after a certain hour. These are active measures by people who see their personal devices as extensions of their arms. I do it myself, and “missing out” is high on my list of fears. In a space where we’ve taken a screen being in close proximity for granted, the fight becomes harder when audiences are staying within safe social spaces of wedding announcements and job offers, with the occasional sprinkling of inspiring stories. We can no longer take comfort in creating second-screen experiences. We need to find meaningful space on primary screens with reduced time available.
As news organizations, we have to reclaim our identities and be more than just “content-creators” that fill feeds. It’s time to rethink our coverage and look deeply at what we stand for. We have to provide insights that last beyond a click or a tweet, that inspire conversations over coffee or dinner. We have to remember the people we create content for and that they are real personalities with opinions and experiences that we will never know. We have to build communities online and offline that speak to the mission of why we do what we do. We have to give people a reason to come back from their digital detoxing.
Dhiya Kuriakose is head of syndication and social video at Condé Nast.