Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Media Overload

Does anybody out there think that we don’t live in a media-saturated culture? The media and video images are everywhere from the internet to YouTube to our mobile media devices. There is nowhere to escape from a 24/7 media culture. Everything is overkill. Can you tell me where media ends and where culture begins? They are indistinguishable from each other.

Have you thought much about media? What about its impact? I don’t know if you are from my generation, but when I graduated high school in 1975, we only had a handful of broadcast television networks. There was no cable television or VCRs to record TV    programs. But in just a few short years, everything changed. Technology has brought us cable and satellite television, and now we can see any movie we want thanks to our DVD and Blu-ray players. It has been amazing to see the changes that have occurred in media in the last 30 years.

But here’s what I think we have not caught up with. How has all of this media and technology impacted our lives, our values, and our belief systems? Can anybody tell me what the truth is today? Is it being defined by the video images we see before us? And, why do we believe what we believe? Can we give a rational and logical explanation? Or, perhaps, it is a product of the mass media culture that we find ourselves immersed in. We seem to be too busy today to give any of this any serious consideration.

We all are consumers of media, including those of us who call ourselves Christians. But few of us would admit that we understand how media works or the influence it creates. Perhaps the answers are too frightening. If we really understood just how
much we are influenced by media, as well as controlled and manipulated by the images we find on our television and computer screens, we might be motivated to ask some questions.

It’s time to start thinking for ourselves, and the way to do that is through Media Literacy. Media literacy is just like reading and writing. It offers us basic skills in being able to decipher and understand how media is constructed. It has four parts. (1) Define what message is being communicated. (2) What is the purpose behind the message? (3) Look at how it is impacting us individually. (4) How does it impact culture and society.

I know that sounds like a lot. But it is really not that complicated. Media literacy is just asking you to start thinking for yourself and to take the time to slow down and start really thinking about what you see and hear in the media. When we watch television and go to the movies, all we want to do is just “veg out”. But, in reality, we become like a sponge and absorb everything we see and hear. That’s not healthy. We are like a chalkboard, and we allow the media to write what it wants to write. If you intend to some day rear a child, would you expose them to everything. Of course not. In no way am I suggesting that you stop going to the movies or watching television or using the internet. Whether we like it or not, media is here to stay.

But, as Christians, we need to be the most media-savvy people on the planet. I want to be able to think for myself. Then I can make informed decisions based on the facts, not on what I see and hear in the media. I know what I believe. Do you?

No comments:

Post a Comment