Interactivity in New Media

In his essay, Sterne (2012) alludes to the possibility of interactivity having elements of passivity despite having a contrary perpetuation. Indeed, the world has been made to believe that traditional media is associated with passivity while new media is based on a need for active participation and interaction. Accordingly, the concept of downloading is considered to be based around a passive model of consumption with uploading being a participative production model. However, this presentation is a source of increased controversy owing to the monetization of new media interactions by commercial websites. The interaction within these media is based on predetermined rules of engagement that are not in favor of the participants. Often times, users have no option with regard to the rules stipulated in these websites and have to conform to the moral tyranny depictive of these websites (Lievrouw, 2012). In the end, the new media cannot claim to be encouraging the perpetuation of free interaction and participation among users.

It is not surprising that the new media has advocated for the trouncing of traditional media through active participation. However this act is now a privileged mode of consumerism in which case the users are subjected to the global capital involuntarily. The nature of the new media is that users are encouraged to incorporate it into their lives thus exposing their personal lives to strangers in the media (Bird, 2011). For instance, most social media sites require that a user fills in personal information before they are granted permission to use the sites. In fact, the registration cannot be approved in the absence of this information that is then used in harmonizing the content availed to respective users. While users may view this as an innocent requirement, it is often the subject of privacy and security violation by the social sites. The current wave of new media is geared towards the parlaying of media attention into a kind of market value to be sold for moneymaking.

The urge for active participation as floated by social sites is inclined towards the collection of information for use in moneymaking. In one instance, Facebook used my personal information in suggesting products that the company thought would be of interest to me. This has been the case with millions of other users who feel that their rights to privacy have been violated. According to Sterne (2012), the demand for active participation is nothing other than a coercive and bullying process. By agreeing to the terms stipulated within the social media sites, users are subjected to coercive exploitation of their information. For instance, a desire to opt out of certain advertisements on the new media may turn sour for the users as they are not allowed an option. It is this development that results to the suffocation of people that decide not to play along to the supposed moral nobility of active participation. Ultimately, the demand for active participation is a coercive process that exploits the very ideas it purports to celebrate.

It is no doubt that social media and indeed the new media has transformed the manner in which people interact. This development has resulted in the proliferation of active participation among the users. However, the demand for active participation is equally symbolic of the very ideals of passivity that the new media claims to cast away. The new software and machine deprive the participants of the very noble option of setting the terms of engagement by limiting their participation to predetermined terms (Lievrouw, 2012). Accordingly, the new commercial media is not any different from the traditional media that it touts to abolish. Everything that has been said in opposition of the traditional passive media is now evident in the new media. The writer is thus right in stating that active participation as advanced by the new media is only but a privileged mode of consumerism.



Sterne, J. (2012). “What if Interactivity is the New Passivity?” FlowTV. 15.10.

Lievrouw, L. A. (2012). The Next Decade in Internet Time: Ways Ahead for New Media Studies. Information, Communication & Society. 15:5. pp 616-638.

Bird, S. E. (2011). Are We All Producers Now? Cultural Studies. 25 (4-5), pp. 502-516.


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