Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lean-Forward vs. Lean-Back Entertainment

People tell me often that I am addicted to the internet. I’m not going to say that is a completely unfair statement, but I feel that I need to justify it. I will probably end up going into all the reasons I like the internet and its importance to me, but for right now, let me just focus on one part of it – Lean-Forward Entertainment.
Few people know the difference between Lean-Forward and Lean-Back Entertainment. The definitions of them are actually quite literal. The thing that differentiates them from one another is the mode in which entertainment is viewed. Television shows and movies are what we call “Lean-Back” entertainment because, well, that is what we do when we watch it. We turn on the TV to put our mind in a different place and submerge ourselves in someone else’s story and situation. What we watch on TV and in movies is fiction the majority of the time, and therefore can portray any number of different storylines and subjects.
Videos on the internet are called “Lean-Forward” entertainment, because they are not only watched for entertainment, but are often watched because you want to actively involve yourself in the subject and with the people who are making the content. YouTube is, for the most part, the main provider of this content. When someone, like me, goes onto YouTube to watch a video, they are not only watching the content of the video, but are rating, commenting, and favoriting those videos, which are often user-generated, and therefore you are helping to make that content by giving your opinion. This is most common with people who use YouTube as their television.
I don’t watch much TV because the content is often too impersonal for me, and the ability to give my input to the maker of the video, and the way that I can relate to the creator changes this and makes Lean-Forward entertainment is more personal. The main type of YouTube videos I am talking about are vlogs (video blogs), not mindless videos with skateboarding cats and music parodies. The videos that are watched for Lean-Forward Entertainment are made by people who are the writers, producers, actors, and editors of their own videos, which in my opinion doesn’t make them any less talented or worthy of praise than people who make it on TV.
People say that I am on YouTube way too much, and people say I am addicted to it. But is it really that bad? Sure, I spend a good half hour a day catching up on my YouTube videos in my Subscription box, but what makes that any worse than watching hours of television shows a day? YouTube is just my preferred form of entertainment. I prefer to Lean-Forward and watch, while others prefer to Lean-Back. Does that make my choices of entertainment any less valid?


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