When I look at how many of us use the term 'audience,' I conjure an image of a passive, shiftless, group who are waiting to be persuaded (about something), entertained (by something), engaged (with something) or encouraged (to do something). This image has a direct effect on how I think about my social marketing and health communication efforts: do I inform? Amuse? Create interesting products and services? Get emotional? Or some combination of them?
The details of the answers to these questions lie in our ability to communicate and empathize (NOT sympathize) with people formerly known as the audience. But those are the wrong questions for today.
Rather, seeing people as active and creative actors in their own lives, and not passive recipients of their fate - or what 'we' do, sets the tone for how we each respectively approach our social role. When I am 'an audience,' I DO want to be entertained, satisfied immediately and left alone in my experience of the moment (try interrupting THAT!). When I am 'the change agent,' I want to disrupt this perceived passivity, challenge the 'satisfied now,' and stimulate experiences of social solidarity and action.
I desire to create thoughtfulness and passion to bring people fully in touch with their beliefs and motives and act on them responsibly (yes, that's opening a debate).
I aspire to create hope that their lives can be better (however each of us defines it), our institutions can improve and the world can be a better place too - and that we can find ways to do just that.
I want to shift to shift the dominant social forces that preach ideas and behaviors such as 'consume and die,' "be still, be quiet, be docile,' and be 'easy, fun and popular.'Most of all, I want to do it as 'us' - not to them, at them or for them. We talk about the changing role of the audience and the emerging role of the change agent; should we talk more about the 'us' of change?