The media and what it portrays helps paint our view of the world, our opinions of one another and structures what our culture deems as acceptable.
Pause for a second.
Reread that sentence.
Upon reading the sentence you may have shrugged slightly or yawned of boredom. Sure, media influences us, but who really cares? I control my own thoughts, independent from what media might dictate.
You spend 11 hours every day on your phone, listening to music, watching a show and listening to podcasts on the commute to work. Half of Americans lives are now spent consuming media. The significance of the media’s impact on modern culture and our thoughts cannot be understated. Not to mention that the 11-hour figure is a modest estimate for current rates of consumption, and the exponential rise in recent years indicate that Americans don’t plan on setting down their phones anytime soon.
Now I’m not a conspiracy theorist furiously typing in my mother’s basement, but I feel like I am appropriately dubious of something I will spend half my lifetime being entertained by.
Prepare for another generally accepted truth that no one seems to care about which is also ruining the cultural fabric of our country: the media does more harm than good.
There are elders that object the belief that media has always been bad, arguing that in their days of Judy Garland and five cent cheeseburgers, there was nothing but bliss in America. To this I say, in generally the same time as Jimmy Stewart, there was an outspoken leader who was incredibly successful in brainwashing German youth to commit atrocities using various media channels. Hitler was able to use the media to promote propaganda and completely transformed a culture into accepting the senseless murder of millions of people before citizens spent 11 hours of their day on their phone.
But back to the 21st century.
Let’s take modern television, just for example.
There are now thousands of channels spanning a huge spectrum of topics, including 14 ESPN channels, countless movie channels, and my personal favorite, Retirement Living TV, which has featured programming of shuffleboard games.
In this obviously oversaturated market of television channels, networks are left wondering how to get the average viewer to land on their chunk of the vast wasteland that is now television. The answer to this question is what is ruining the medium.
Sex. Gossip. Violence. It has become a game of who can scream the loudest. Any content is fair game, as long as it brings the faint hope that people will watch.
Television news stations have fallen far from ethics. They are forced to feature headlining stories about meaningless celebrities just to gain viewership. Even worse, they are more inclined to feature shocking commentators, and some even twist the words of truth in order to get people talking about their station.
We have fallen far from the days when major networks agreed to air child-friendly content during primetime in the interest of the public and now are deep in the toxic culture that thousands of channels have perpetuated.
There is no clear way to fix this media overconsumption epidemic. Phones are only becoming more ingrained as a part of our lives, and the generation that is abhorrently against technology is beginning to fade away. We have begun to accept the unacceptable in terms of what is considered entertainment and news on all forms of media. All I ask is that we look up for our screens every once in a while to wonder how the content available on technology is actually reprogramming us.