Virtual Gathering Review
On Friday, April 9th, 12AM, I attended a virtual "mukbang," which is a live stream of someone eating food. The title of the gathering was called "Trying out 10 different cakes from different bakeries in Seoul." It took place through Youtube's live streaming function. There were about 100 participants from all over the world watching and commenting on the video as the host tried out and rated various cakes. The gathering lasted about 3 hours. Usually, I only watch recorded or archived mukbangs on Youtube and do not attend the live streams. However, I stayed up until 12AM to experience the live event myself for the very first time.
Because I was already familiar with Youtube, accessing the live gathering was very easy. Because Youtube has made sharing comments very intuitive, it allowed for a more engaging experience and for a lively audience participation. Thus, because of the sheer size of the gathering, the mood of the gathering was energetic but also hectic at the same time. Moreover, since hundreds of people were commenting on the video at the same time, it was very hard to maintain or follow a single stream of conversation with anyone. Rather, the host was picking up on a few memorable comments that she saw and mentioned those comments throughout the show as a way to communicate and engage with the audience.
Although no one really communicated with anyone, I do not think the purpose of gatherings like this is to facilitate a single conversation between the host and the attendees, as opposed to what a smaller gathering normally aims to do. People coming into this gathering were aware of this and did not attend the event expecting to maintain an active conversation with the host.
Rather, I think one of the main purposes for events like this is to help the attendees feel each other's presence and a sense of belonging to a larger group, and so the large size of the gathering was appropriate for this purpose. I, too, partly attended this event to erase the feeling of isolation that I would frequently get when studying alone in my room. Another more obvious purpose of this gathering was for people to literally see another person eat, maybe as a means to indirectly satisfy their cravings. Some people, on the other hand, watch mukbangs to avoid eating alone, even if that may mean virtually watching others eat.
Overall, the gathering was successful because it achieved its purposes. I do think, however, that it could be improved by allowing for a more engaged communication between the host and the attendees and among the attendees as well. To do so, a smaller gathering in the size of 30 to 50 might be more appropriate.
I learned from this gathering that determining the right size of attendees is important in achieving a specific purpose and that if I want to allow for active participation among the attendees, the platform that I use has to be intuitive and easy to use.
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