With the invention of the printing press, influential works of writing could be mass-produced and sent around the world. As the centuries passed, media was able to travel faster, with the use of telegrams and as of the past hundred years, even faster with radio, magazines, television and the internet. Today, we rely heavily on television, radio and the internet for up-to-date news and entertainment. These forms of mass media influence most every aspect of the society we live in. Mass media is a significant source of culture in the United States, almost the very essence of what makes up the nation. It is referred to as mediated culture in sociology, where the media creates or greatly influences the culture or society. (CliffNotes.com) Without movies, internet, radio and television, there would be no concept of celebrity. As little as a hundred years ago, celebrities were those with great influence in society, such as politicians, business owners or leaders and notorious criminals. Now, celebrities are actors, actresses, musicians, and other social elites in addition to what was considered celebrity in the earlier centuries. Because of the influence these celebrities have on the public, especially the youth, societies have changed to accept what they have found to be fashionable and socially acceptable. However, what is considered fashionable or socially accepted is not always the healthiest for the body or mind of those under their influence. In contrast, though, with celebrities promoting charitable causes, research for what had once been terminable or unknown diseases and the building of low-income housing has grown with the help of public support from fans. Radio helped to pioneer the mass media influence in the first years of the twentieth century. Though originally used to transmit two-party conversations, radio became a popular form of vocalized media, airing everything from newsbreaks to science fiction stories to its most popular use today: music. Through radiobroadcasting, world and local news could be heard by anyone with, or within hearing range of, a radio. We still use radio to receive the latest in national and world news, usually through public broadcasting stations. However, by being able to get news on the go, there is no verifiable way to determine whether what we hear is true or false. This can lead to anger or upset over misleading information, which can be directed towards those reporting the news, instead of those who are responsible for the incorrect or false information. Though this is only one use for radio, most radio listeners tune in for the variety of music available at all hours of the day. Music in today’s society influences much of what is considered socially acceptable. Youth are most influenced by the actions of the musicians that are most looked upon as icons. The actions of a musician may be construed as correct behavior by a child and acted out as such when around others. However, this cannot be said about all artists in the music industry. Many musicians stand up for what is morally right and because of them, the youth of today are learning to accept individuals for who they are and not what they are stereotyped as. Television has also played a major role in our lives over the past fifty years and even more so in the past twenty, where it is common for even low-income families to own a television. Now, companies can advertise products in promotional ads and even in paid spots during current primetime shows, and during elections, politicians and bill advocates can buy ad time during major network primetime slots. While this technology is great for the advancing of products and political ideals, television has caused its fair share of problems in society. Whether it is a commercial, or a weekly comedy or drama, the need to be thin and perfect affects the lives of viewers, no matter what their age, and it has become a serious problem in the past decade. “Young people are in a stage of life where they want to be accepted by their peers, they want to be loved and be successful. The media creates the ideal image of a beautiful men and women and tells you what the characteristics of a successful person are; you can see it in movies and TV. It’s a subliminal way to tell you that if you are not like them you are not cool yet so its time to buy the stuff they buy and look like they look.” (Uso) Yet, there is conflicting information. Numerous shows or products want the viewer to be anatomically perfect, however, many commercials are promoting junk foods, suck as McDonalds and Burger King. Some youth have found the answer to their problems to be bulimia, where the food is consumed then purged before it can be digested fully into the body. Other effects of television on youth are language and demeanor, which in many situational-comedies or dramas are considered socially acceptable to help make the plot or storyline fall into place. While these are only a margin of the ways society is effected and influenced by mass media, it is clear that the way every individual acts is a reflection of the media that surrounds them. Whether it be the news broadcasted via both radio and television, or a hundred years ago with the advent of newspapers, magazines and telegraphs, media will always influence the society we live in, and will add pressure on those who wish to seek the ultimate perfection that is presented through media.
CliffsNotes.com. The Role and Influence of Mass Media. 22 Nov 2009 .
“Mass Media Influence.” Mibba. 15 Aug. 2008. 23 Nov. 2009.
Uso, Ray. “Mass Media Influence on Society.” HubPages. 2007. 22 Nov. 2009.