In a time when we touch our phones 2,617 times a day, one must be aware of what media are doing to us on an everyday basis. While we cannot be 100% sure of the effect, we cannot in the very least, deny one. Media does something to us and in order to understand how or why, one has to dig deeper into the theories of the past and the present. Only then we can understand if a consumer uses media or the other way around. And if the current state of the growth of media remains consistent, then will media exist in the world or perhaps, will the world exist in media?
“Mass Media: Perception creates reality” is an hour and thirty one minute long documentary published on YouTube. The video is a compilation of shorter clips that present strong claims that the author makes based on past news reports, speeches, experts and scholars, supporting each claim with an example from the past. The first half discusses about how television affects the adults and children on a more psychological level. The second half covers the extent to which news organisations go to and why, to achieve what they want; a rather moral insight. Throughout the video the author criticises and comments upon numerous effects of media on people and how this phenomena is more dangerous than it first appears. The video opens with a clip from the movie Network, where a veteran news anchor man goes on a rant about how television is an “amusement park” and that if the viewers were seeking for the truth, then they must look anywhere other than television.
Evolving from the age of kings and emperors, he explains how reality was distorted by people projecting their accomplishments as more glorious than they actually were and how this continues in news channels and mass media today. According to him, media excites people unnecessarily. He follows with an example of a study conducted on parents and their children upon the nagging behaviour of children to buy a product after viewing its advertisement. Another strong claim was that media debases the idea of celebrity by focusing only on power, fame, desire and sex, when clearly we need a better variety of celebrities; ones that are credible and have achieved something substantial. A brief mention of media effects like priming, agenda setting, framing and cultivation is made in the video. After which it dives into the manipulation and pervasion of news channels and how this can have consequences on a national level.
The content of the video talks about how communication is a phenomena that has changed a lot over time but the popular medium of communication, i.e., the television, is portrayed in a very strong negative light. There is a wide depiction of how mass media imposes their interpretation of the truth onto the viewers. Mainstream media implies that they can be depended upon to report significant information. However, the process of determining what dictates the publishing of certain news can be driven by incentives like money, recognition and branding by larger organisations or the government. Media in order to hook us in, primarily cares about the information that excites people. It is described as a hypnotic tool that implants images and ideas in one’s head even without the viewer’s participation.
Media is the message and the messenger
How often are you comfortable letting a stranger into your house? That’s right, you are not. Similarly, any new technology is the stranger that is now a part of your home and will continue to exist till it is made obsolete by another “stranger”. One must recognise that media is the message and the messenger.
This conveys that a medium is an extension of ourselves similar to any new technology. Therefore any new technology is bound to alter our experience of receiving information and also meddle with our existing views. Every time a new communication technology enters the market, it will completely disrupt the (existing) status quo of the media landscape by overwhelming the audience.
Media is truly everywhere and to some extent we do live in media. It affects us all on a societal level. One should be aware of what they watch and how they allow different types of media to form their perceptions. While we are engaging in mundane things like simply flipping the channels of television and surfing the internet, we are getting affected yet unaware of the effect or the extent to which it affects us. A mere exposure to a media, excluding any involvement is an affect in its own. It should spark the thought to be critical and observe the patterns of human brain and its reactions to the environment that concerns with media.
Cover: Pixabay/JohnsonGoh / Final Editor: Mana Reed Stutchbury