It’s so hard, sometimes, to give of yourself, constantly. It is harder sometimes to receive, me with all my, probably imagined, imperfections.
From this place of vulnerability, as a journalist, I ask people to share themselves with me. We are strangers, offering of ourselves something tangible, something real. I am a consumer of knowledge. They trust me with their stories, knowing that I see through a particular lens, a lens that I will use to interpret their story. I am a producer of knowledge.
In this way, I may be deemed a prosumer. I consume and produce, I drink tea like water, and then I repeat the cycle. Please don’t interpret this as me complaining. It is a privilege to share people’s stories. I truly love what I do.
It’s strange how some things, you never forget. And, others are gone by the time you finish drinking your cup of tea. For me, I remember people’s stories.
Yesterday, I met a wonderful, warm and heartfelt woman named Irene Tshinguta. She shared her story with two of my journalism friends and I. She taught me that nothing in life is certain but love. People, places, and occurrences come and go. Nothing in this world is permanent.
Here is Irene’s story.
Thousands of refugees and immigrants come to Canada every year by land, sea and air. The challenges they face are massive. Gerrit De Vynck tells the story of one woman who came to Canada from the Democratic Republic of the Congo after she became a target of the government after and incident while she was crossing the border into Zambia to sell clothes she made herself. Since arriving in Canada, alone and scared, she has built up a new life with the love and support of a local community.
By. Veronica Tang, Gerrit De Vynck, Marijke Large
I realized that by choosing to share this video, with you, the reader, the previously mentioned roles of the consumer and producer shift slightly (or should I say new roles are added). And so, I began to reflect on the relationship between me, Marijke the blogger, and you, the reader. In any blog post there is the reader (you), the subject (Irene) and the producer (me). The consumer is the reader, and so I, the writer, am the producer on the information along with my fellow journalism students and Irene.
Arguably, if you, the reader, post comments at the end of this post you are engaging in a conversation with the blogger, and therefore you are becoming both a content consumer AND a producer. According to Ritzen, Dean and Jurgenson a Producer + Consumer =’s Prosumer.
What I find fascinating is how the prosumer interacts with the story the blogger is telling. The reader, and potential prosumer, can sometimes even become a part of the story you share, and occasionally dictate what should be blogged about. I have also read comments on blogs that tell the author their content is becoming boring and repetitive.
Though it may be sometimes true, it makes me wonder if people are starting to forget that bloggers are real people telling their (mostly) real stories. By “consuming” their content we are sharing in their story. We watch their story unfold from week to week, post to post. Unlike the video I posted, where if you don’t like it, you can just stop playing it, with a blog, we also have the ability to interact and tell the blogger what we like and dislike.
So, what is the line between the blogger and the commenter in the story being told? Do the readers help co-produce your narrative on your blog? Or, as Jergenson, Ritzen and Dean might ask, would blogs be less effective, and potentially collapse without prosumers? Does the ability to comment on someone’s blog imply you have invested in them and have the right to suggest what they write about or what content they can or cannot include?
BUT, if the ideals of the blogger are generally not in line with the commenter’s they can choose to update their content according to the reader feedback through responding to the comments. It is a fine line between engaging with the readers and wanting to maintain your own, authentic voice. Ultimately, I ask, who owns the comment box?! So, in terms of the readers co-authoring the blog (prosumer alert), who do the comments really belong too?
One last thought. Does framing the reader as a “consumer” and potential “producer,” rather than just a passive reader of your blog, make you think differently about these questions?
I would love to hear your thoughts!