Tik Tok, far from being a novel outcome of New Media, is the purest version of Television yet. It is the "wasteland" that Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton N. Minow accused broadcast networks of being in 1961, vapid and violent and drowning in marketing. It is the ultimate reality TV, of life as entertainment.
The techno-utopians who first championed the Internet-as-opposition failed to understand that television is not just the shape-shifting screen in our living rooms. Nor is it the newest programming on Netflix. Rather, television is a manifestation of what French philosopher Guy Debord called the "society of the spectacle." Six years after Minow's polemic, Debord argued that mass media had become the driving force in modern life: "The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images." Understood in this way, television is not legacy media, but entertainment as ideology—a way of understanding the world through televised means. If the first age of television was the TV set's emergence in the 1950s, and the second and third were the explosion of cable in the 1980s and the arrival of big-budget, cinematic programming in the 2000s, ours is a fourth age of television, in which televised performance is no longer something to be watched but something to be lived. The confessional is now our primary mode of addressing the wider culture.
I read a while back that young people want to be acknowledged but not seen. Well, maybe now they want to be seen but not acknowledged.