Media Consumption in the Digital Age
By Eric Huebner
July 2, 2013
Since its genesis in the late 1950s, the Internet has developed into the single greatest influence on
modern society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way we consume and process media. The
Internet has empowered an enormous swath of consumers to actively participate in media, rather than
passively observing it. Smartphone apps such as Instagram and Twitter allow people to actively
contribute to dialogues that transcend typical social confines.
The way in which our society treats not just media, but information in general has radically changed.
At its most fundamental level, this change reflects connectivity. The rise of the Internet has allowed
people to communicate instantaneously from one corner of the world to another and to do so in a
remarkably unfettered way.
The extreme freedom of speech and association provided by the Internet has the potential to generate a
host of incredible connections. Not only do social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn allow people to
communicate, but they also allow people to create media in new and innovative ways.
We now process images as GIFs. We get our news from Twitter, Reddit and other instantaneous
blogging services. We share our jokes in the form of memes. Our culture is shared among entire
populations, often going viral. Not coincidentally, so is our marketing.
The Internet has unquestionably become the most powerful tool for modern marketing. The ability to
share limitless types of content has allowed advertisers to become extremely creative with their
For example, 2012 blockbuster The Dark Knight employed viral marketing to create a buzz for what has
become one of the most successful films of all time. Not only were cryptic clips of recently deceased star
Heath Ledger posted online with links to the film, but advertisers also spray painted graffiti that was made
to look like the makeup of Ledger’s character on various buildings around the world.
One of the first trailers for the film was released when all graffiti had been located, with pictures uploaded
to the Internet. Naturally, the details of this were shared on the Internet and the trailer was unlocked
This exemplifies the efficacy of marketing when paired with the cultural revolution provided by the
Internet. By sharing content, it can reach many more people than a traditional print or television ad.
Modern culture’s shift toward highly visual, online media is a boon for marketing agencies, as they now
have limitless tools at their disposal to reach even wider audiences than ever before.
Modern society’s newfound emphasis on visual media and highly interconnected sharing has
fundamentally changed the essence of not only marketing, but the cultural experience. Previous cultural
constraints have disappeared in favor of the limitless creativity afforded by this cultural revolution.
However, the most incredible detail is that this has only just begun. The Internet is an incredibly new
invention, whose potential is completely limitless. In the coming years, we can expect to see new and
unimaginable developments in our increasingly interconnected culture.