The Mass Media Massacre
Growing up today, it would probably be difficult to imagine a culture without mass media as we know it. We live with unbelievably massive interconnectivity providing more direct access to news outlets, information resources, and popular culture. With media becoming such a part of our lives it’s easy to believe that it could have an effect on how we live. This might raise some concerns as to whether or not media negatively affects those who are exposed to it. Despite some popular beliefs, the media is not responsible for various prevalent social problems. For starters, there is very little concrete evidence showing that media is wholly harmful for the youth or people in general. Secondly, one cannot accurately find a connection between media portrayed behavior and actual behaviors. Lastly, there is evidence to suggest that the media is actually very informative and the resulting knowledge can lead to less social problems.
When discussing whether media has a negative effect on society, a good place to start is to see whether or not mass media dumbs people down. Many of us can picture sluggish Americans mindlessly watching TV while sitting on their couches chugging endless amounts of unhealthy, deep fried, fast food. This image is so prevalent that it’s not difficult to extrapolate that watching television is dumbing us down. Like most simplistic views of complicated issues, this is not the case. In her book, Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is Not the Answer, Karen Sternheimer points to new forms of media as a counter argument saying “But instead of impeding knowledge and discourse across the board, new media like the Internet have increased public discourse, along with the number of amusements available to distract us” (Sternheimer 22). She essentially points out that it requires initiative to become involved in current forms of mass media thus making increased intelligence necessary just to participate in our...
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