Sunday, May 1, 2011
Becoming Media Savvy
Knowing the language is essential for navigating through life. Just as we need to be able to read and write, developing media skills is now just as important. Media has its own unique language. It consists of design, structure, meaning, and syntax. John 8:32 tells us that the truth will set us free. We need to know the truth and not just what anybody calls truth. Is what the media communicates to us really the truth? Or is it a distortion of reality? Understanding the tools and language of media will help us to be discerning. By not understanding the language of media, we are held captive to any message which the media wishes to communicate. Our goal as Christians is not to be subject to the control and influence of media.
Most people, including Christians, consume media without processing its purpose, goals, and message. We don‘t ask challenging questions about its authenticity. Therefore we become sponges absorbing everything we see and hear.
What is media literacy? In the past three years, I have taught media literacy to over 100 students. Only five students had ever heard of the subject. Media literacy teaches and unlocks the language of media, which contains five elements. (1) It helps to define the message media communicates. (2) it reveals the purpose behind the message. (3) It identifies how the message impacts the individual. (4) It identifies how the message influences behaviors and shapes perceptions in society. (5) It offers resources on how we can take control of our response to the message.
Learning media literacy is equivalent to wearing a radiation suit. It allows us to live in our society without being exposed to the negative effects that can harm us. We are influenced by people around us as well as our institutions. Our exposure to the media culture not only comes from our firsthand exposure, such as movies and television programs. It also comes from secondhand exposure, such as family, friends, work associates and society in general.