In the textbook Mass Communication in Canada ‘mass media’ is defined as the ‘vehicles through which mass communication takes place’. ‘New media’ is defined to be the ‘technologies, practices, and institutions designed to facilitate broad participation in information creation, production, and exchange on a mass scale’. This includes social media. There is a distinct difference between the two in that the creator of the content and the method of delivery have changed.

So how vulnerable are we to the effects of media?

When secularist magazine Charlie Hebdo published what was interpreted as an Islamophobic piece, what followed was a homicidal reaction superseded by a unity rally. People everywhere were vulnerable to violence and bias. Lines were drawn and sides had to be chosen. No one expected to be confronted by such violence, not the editors of Charlie Hebdo nor any of the other citizens of France. Yet everyone was pressured to vocalize an opinion. Media has a far reach. We can be affected by the tiniest of posts in the tiniest of publications the same way we can be affected by the larger ones.

We have a culture of documentation. If it is not in the news, then it did not happen. If your face is not in the picture then you were not there. It is another form of the question: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Documentation with evidence is now the only validation of existence. Journalist Jacob Silverman at The Guardian says, “In this environment … all those inward-looking, quieter elements of consciousness begin to seem insincere. Sharing is sincerity. Removing the mediating elements of thought becomes a mark of authenticity, because it allows you to be more uninhibited in your sharing.” Media has affected what sincerity means to us and even how our lives are validated.

In Phaedrus, Plato wrote ’This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves… they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.” This was said simply with regard to the invention of letters. Then the invention of the printing press affected humankind not only because it gave people access to information they had no access to before, but also because it caused us to use our brains less as information became more accessible. We have propagated this by creating digital publication. Now information is at our fingertips. We can know everything in a moment’s notice and yet know absolutely nothing at all.

Media has the power to pressure people to take sides. It has the ability to redefine social etiquettes and change interpersonal behaviours. It has made us remember less as we believe that our brains have relocated from our heads to our fingers, where they can be forever informed. We are at risk to be influenced externally, consciously, and subliminally. We are vulnerable to the effects of media on all levels of our lives.

About The Author

Uni Grad

Related Posts