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20/05/2019 Communication Science news and articles

Live On Air: The Reality

Nowadays, everyone can broadcast themselves live for the world to see. What influence will this have on the way we communicate?


As anyone who is familiar with historic moments in television history will know, John F. Kennedy could only credit his election to the effects of live television. As the first ever Catholic to run for office, it was predicted unlikely that he would win the election thanks to anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States at the time of his campaign. However, the Nixon-Kennedy debate, being the first televised presidential debate in history, turned the tide.

Comparing a young, handsome Kennedy to the pale, sickly Nixon, the contrast was stark. Confidence exuded from the appearance of the energetic Irish-American senator. Those who had listened to the debate on the radio, were sure that Nixon had won. Years later, live television recorded not only JFK’s political rise, but also his mortal fall. The assassination of Kennedy shook the world, shot in real time for millions across the globe to see.

Being “live” in this day and age is now as commonplace as finding a maaltijdsalade in your local Albert Heijn

However, being “live” in this day and age is now as commonplace as finding a maaltijdsalade in your local Albert Heijn. Following the explosive growth of social media over the past decade, broadcasting “live” has become something that we have grown to take for granted. Now, you can broadcast yourself using livestreaming services such as YouNow, a feature that YouTube also caught onto recently. You can go live on Instagram with your friends, and watch people play video games live through Twitch.

Essentially, all the tools are available for one to become a reality TV star of their own making. Everything is live. The concept of “live” adds a sense of provocativity that carefully presented, edited material cannot. The rawness of “live” is undeniable. However, when we are live, are we living? Do we alter our behavior for cameras, and are we truly being authentic to who we are?

One to one communication, becomes one to tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions

Essentially, we are exposing ourselves to the world at large. Is this perhaps diminishing our conception of privacy? Whereas in the past, the sight of our moving faces were reserved for the people that we chose to physically spend time with, this boundary has now ceased to exist. One to one communication, becomes one to tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions.

When you are on “live”, there is nothing you can do to change what the world receives from your message. Once it is out there, it cannot be taken back. Think Kanye at the 2009 MTV VMA Awards, staining his own reputation by inappropriately publicizing his disapproval of Taylor Swift on air. What’s to stop yourself from becoming the next Kardashian, putting your entire life on display for the world to see?

Final editing: Kevin Hesp / Cover: guaxipo

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