Examining Media Use and Influence

My daily routine is as follows:

Phone alarm rings.

Slowly turn over to pick up phone and turn off alarm.

Immediately check to see if there are any new texts, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Fitbit, or Pinterest updates.

Get out of bed and trudge down the hall to get ready for my day.

Constantly listening for that magical sounding chime that announces the arrival of a new alert.

Any moment of downtime spent glued to a small screen that fits in my pocket.

Even the sacred TV is not immune to the pull of the social media update. Why yes, I do need to take a selfie at this very second Leonardo DiCaprio, the Titanic will just have to continue sinking without my full attention.

This is my routine, without fail, everyday (minus Leo DiCaprio and Titanic, but you get the picture).

 

New media and technology has integrated into our lives so smoothly and effortlessly, that many don’t even think about all of the ways they are influenced by it. “Did you see the story I posted on Facebook?” “Have you updated your profile picture to show solidarity with *insert some cause here*?” “Did you see so and so’s tweet?” I know that if I miss something on any particular day, someone I follow on one of the plethora of platforms I access will be sure to post something about it, causing me to either read what they posted, research it for myself, or store it at the back of my mind to bring up in conversation at a later time. From TV, to popup ads on Hulu, to news alerts on one’s cell phone, to old fashion print media is everywhere.

One would be hard pressed to avoid media in all of its many incarnations. To state that one is not influenced by the media would barely be believable. I believe that our beliefs are cultivated over time through our own individual experiences. No two people are going to have the same experience of the same event. Just as no two people are going to interpret information presented from a news source in the same way. That being said, how a person thinks is going to dictate what kinds of news sources they follow and are exposed to; whether it be liberal or conservative, religious or secular.

For instance, I was raised in a Republican Christian environment. I was brought up with those ideals and values but over time with varied experiences I have crossed over to more of a liberal stand point. I follow more liberal news outlets and social groups on various social media platforms. I like to think that regardless of what is presented, I look at it from an unbiased point of view, but that’s not true. I have a bias toward news sources like FOX. How they present stories makes me want to run to the nearest liberal station and jump on their bandwagon. But that is me. I am influenced in large and small ways by how the information is presented. I, like many, have fallen prey to reading something and immediately posting something that turned out to be false. That’s sensationalism for you. Well, that and mob mentality.

Today’s media reminds me of the game Telephone. The game starts with one complete thought but after a person or two it gets distorted. By the time it reaches the last person you have gibberish. With news stations vying for viewership and the need to break a story first, the truth behind the story can get muddled and lost. We as a society need to become more media literate, not relying on one specific news source but cross examining their information with that of other sources to try and uncover the truth. One would think that news would be easier and more trust worthy with how available it is, but to me it seems like it has actually made knowing what is true a lot harder to find.

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