Times they are a-changing

So, as i sit to write on my computer my text message alert rings on one of my two blackberry smart phones, a conversation is initiated, then a second conversation is initiated with another person, and next thing i know i am having five conversations at the same time. I hate texting, bbm’ing, chatting and all of its similar evolutions, i believe it has made us handicapped, it created a distance even bigger than the one we allowed ourselves when we only had a phone call to count on. I remeber the times when it wasn’t polite to call after a certain time in the evening, and also that you would only let the phone ring a few times and had to wait several minutes until you tried again, i mean, it was part of the telephone etiquette my grandmother taught me.

Nowadays people text and bbm, constantly, and things that could be said in less than 60 seconds are scattered through endless text messages that can go on forever. Nowadays it almost feels like calling someone is a gigantic bother, like you are invading someone’s space. I will constantly hear: “why didn’t you text me?” or: “i can’t talk, i am in a meeting, send me a text”. Well, you can’t talk but you can text? How is that any less disrespectful to the other people in that meeting? How does that not take from what you should actually be doing? What happened that made us so afraid of talking on the phone? Does that mean that one day if they creat holograms we won’t ever need to actually meet people for dinners or conversations? Will we only want to talk to the hologram of a friend? I mean, looking at the way things are shifting, it seems like it could definitely happen. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I once considered myself a very well informed and skillful person when it came to technologies, i was always upgrading my equipment and myself, but then life happened and i acquired more responsibilities and little by little Facebook, Google and finally Twitter started creeping in, and i had no idea what that meant. I remember thinking – what’s the use of this dumb website? Why would anyone care for what i am doing, where i am going or any of that crap? Well, i wasn’t alone, but very rapidly people realized all the money that could be made and all the business that could be generated with little to no money and the social network craze was let lose.

I currently have a blog, facebook and twitter accounts, i probably have other similar stuff around too but i rather not even think of those as these three are already a lot of work to maintain. I have updated myself, i am very much aware of the new medias and i find all of it truly fascinating. I have however seen and lived the decline of several industries, even more so after the financial crisis in 2008, when everything fell to pieces.

When i heard about the documentary “Page One – Inside The New York Times” i was very intrigued and happy to see that finally someone took the time to put the message out there, that there has been an ongoing revolution for several years and still, to this day, many people and corporations do not pay enough attention or understand what is going on. And what a greater way to show the revolution than from inside one of the largest, if not THE largest media outlet in the world: The New York Times. I have watched the documentary and i connected to it in so many levels, of course there were many things left unsaid, but the main message was out there: we have these medias, now how do we handle this revolution? Are we prepared for the consequences?

I saw it happening in front of me, i am a manager at a modeling agency and also work very closely with tv, film and music, which puts me in the middle of a whole other sector of this revolution. For the music industry it started ages ago with illegal file sharing, Napster and so on and so forth. The music industry was probably the first one to bring attention to the new medias. Around that time people started questioning wether newspapers would fall through the cracks given the amount of bloggers making news on their own terms; however i also remember that most people dismissed that idea by saying that all of it was a mere copy of yesterday’s newspaper or information coming from sources that could not be trusted. As the new medias kept evolving and gowing the film and tv industries also started facing piracy and there was another huge propaganda against these medias. Little by little fashion started following the trend too, and utilizing these medias to promote itself, and even though you can’t download a pair of pants, you can certainly buy it online, instead of a catalog, and maybe you can even see a fashion show in real time instead of attending it in Paris or Milan. You can also see a video editorial on a magazine’s website instead of buying the actual magazine, and that is how, little by little the fashion industry silently began to collapse.

When the economic crisis hit in 2008 i moved to New York, i was lucky enough to get a great job at an amaing position in the middle of a sea of uncertainty and lay offs; every company, including mine, was firing almost on a daily basis, i saw huge fashion conglomerates filing for bankruptcy – as i still do – and everyday as i walked around in New York i would see those awful boxes walking around from one place to another, years of work and dedication compartmented into boxes. It was one of the most terrifying and sad moments of my life, i saw people getting fired daily. I had a failed relationship because my partner had been laid off and for the past four months could not find any job anywhere, so finally the pain and disappointment of seeing a lifetime of work and dedication fall to pieces became so unmanageable that the relationship disintegrated.

What happened in the fashion industry is still not very much talked about, the modeling agencies still don’t pay enough attention to the new medias and allow themselves to fall into these traps made by their clients, who take full advantage of these medias, and the models, by consequence take the worst end of the deal. The rates for models dropped dramatically, several models that had been working for many years all of a sudden became obsolete and huge department stores like Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s or Bloomingdales simply started cutting back on their bookings for catalogs and advertising and established there own rules, making it either their way or the highway. The modeling agencies, in the midst of a crisis did nothing but nod their heads and move forward, trying to hang on to whatever was left. Because of a lack of unity in this market, we still face a very sad future, no one stands by the agencies, there is no union and the agencies won’t stand by each other. Nowadays work has been reduced to 36 hour image use for online stores, catalogs are outdated, no one needs art directors, the models don’t need to be anyone special, sometimes they won’t even have the models heads in the shot, and because of that they feel entitled to pay close to nothing.

The agencies that sat foot and demand respect for their models lose those clients, but then again, do they rally need them? Isn’t it time new standards are established, new rules are made and people become more aware that there is a bigger picture in stake with this entire evolution and revolution process? This also works for the publishing industry, every day you hear about bookstores closing, publishing houses firing employees and the numbers of book sales dropping by the second. Of course people can now read their books on kindle or ipad, but is that under control? Maybe it is, and maybe that industry is the only one that has their future figured out, but where do we go from here?

The New York Times is not only an American institution, it is a global institution, it is point of reference for the entire world, it’s a newspaper that generates news for several other news outlets accross the world. The New York Times cannot perish. We fight to save education, yet we complain when a newspaper starts charging for viewing its content online. The newspaper is also education, did we all forget about that? Why should that content be free if before this revolution you had to pay to have access to it from the news stand? Why do we feel like we are entitled to have that information for free? Why do we feel we can just declare all newspapers dead and move along to the digital era? What happens with all those people who will lose their jobs? Who will be generating the news? Are those sources trustworthy? Who is going to the battle front to make sure the right story is being told? And where will the money for all of that come from if no one wants to pay for the news? The only reason why some blogs and websites have “free” news is because of press agencies and reliable entities like The New York Times, and i believe people seem to forget that. So, what would happen if all of a sudden the penal system decided to shut down operation to operate on line? What would happen if we could no longer rely on going to appointments with doctors but only on reading about symptoms on Wikipedia? The world would collapse, and the world is collapsing as i type this. This is what Nostradamus and the Mayans predicted as the end of the world, our planet will not be hit by the Armageddon, but it will wear itself out until it becomes unmanageable to keep on living and existing. The same way we disrespected nature, we are now disrespecting each other and ourselves. It’s easy to say you don’t want to pay for a song, or to have access to an article, but try and think of the bigger picture, try to think about the chain reaction caused by those U$2,50 that you are “saving”. A tremor in america today may cause a tidal wave in Japan tomorrow, the same applies to this technological revolution.

“Page One” is one of the most compelling and relevant documentaries made in the last fifteen years, it shows and proves something that has been quietly going on for too long. This, like the “Social Network” registers decisive and revolutionary times in our history, these movies are masterpieces and must be seen by all, must be shown in schools and must be advertised and pushed forward as much as possible. It is our responsibility as fellow human beings to be aware and take action. You can’t turn your face away from the reality, we live in 2011, we may not have flying cars or be ruled by apes, but we are definitely facing something that was beyond anyone’s imagination, and it is wild.

Click HERE for the trailer of “Page One -Inside The New York Times”

Author: Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

writes for passion, eats for pleasure, travels for wonder.

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