Will Social Media End Gender Stereotyping?

Johanna Blakley speaks about her studies on the impact of mass media and entertainment on our world in this TED video. Media and advertising companies still use the same old demographics to understand audiences, but they’re becoming increasingly harder to track online. As social media outgrows traditional media, and women users outnumber men, Blakley explains what changes are in store for the future of media. She explains that online communities are able to reach out to each other based on very specific interests and ‘tastes’ – we aggregate around shared interests like Lionel Shriver novels, Denmark’s ‘Borgen’  and the thinking woman’s crumpet – Ryan Gosling, to name three of my own weaknesses.

This information should be revered as gold-dust because our interests are far more powerful predictors of our behaviour than whether we fall into traditional demographic groups like ’18-25 year old afro caribbean woman’ or ’45-54 year old divorced mother of two’. Plus Social Media is largely driven by women. Women outnumber men in our usage of social networking sites, but also the total amount of time we spend engaging with them.  Blakley wonders that as traditional media follows social media for trends, are we are likely to see a rise in that denigrated genre ‘chick flicks’?  Not likely, says she. Certainly the popularity of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘The Killing’ which features strong heroines demonstrate we are far beyond the image of the helpless femme fatale. However, Blakley suggests that entertainment will eventually lose its gendered associations – focusing more on what people actually enjoy rather than stereotypes about what men and women want. And who doesn’t want that type of future?

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