Felson, Richard. “Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior.” Annual Review of Sociology, 22 (1996): 103-128.
Barber, Jennifer, and William Axinn. “New Ideas and Fertility Limitation: The Role of Mass Media.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 66.5 (2004): 1180-1200.
(Photo taken by me)
This photo is an example of the media we receive through the medium of music. Some of us listen to music on a daily basis, throughout our entire day. However, sometimes the messages it sends are not always positive. We may not always realize how much of a negative effect music can play on our lives but the problem derives in our desire to imitate the messages we hear. Especially seen in genres like Hip-Hop & Rap, we sometimes receive messages that allude to illustrations of violence, drugs, and sexual abuse. Richard B. Felson, in his article “Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior”, talks about how technological advances in mass media now have a more drastic impact on violence available to influence children and teenagers. He viewed this as a “social-imatation theory”, in which people imitate what they see or hear. On the subject of music, we hear artists talk about glamour, fame, and extravagant ways they live their lives. Again, we take what the media gives us at face value and apply it to the way in which we live our lives.
(Photo taken by me)
One medium through which we see media operate through is by way of the news. The news serves as an outlet that informs the world on recent or important events. A lot of times, media can help us by letting us know what is going on in the world around us. Though there are several times when dissemination of information can be manipulated to curve their audience’s beliefs in a certain way. A prime example of this would be the most recent debate over the George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin and the poor way in which it was handled by the media. Even though all of the facts were not available at the time of the incident, the news printed a story that got a two-sided reaction from the audience. Because there was no circumstantial evidence pointing to whether or not the act was in intention of murder or self-defense, the media should not have said either to be true. Instead, many stories were printed saying the incident happened a certain way. When we are not given accurate details we are left to speculate what happened through our own devised assumptions. Whatever the case may be, it was through the medium of media that gives us this information.
Aside from the effects media has on our day-to-day lives, media also shapes the ways in which we think as a collective society. Many times, media can give us negative messages, a changed outlook, and confuse us on what the true facts are. We as a society look towards what we see on the news, on television, in music, and on the internet on how to live our lives. Media tells us the ways in which this world should be portrayed and a lot of times we accept that at face value. We see stars on T.V. like Snooki from Jersey Shore and (though most might not realize it) those who are into the show begin to think like should be how it is on this “reality show.” But mass media goes even further than that, in a lot more subtle ways than you might think. Jennifer S. Barber and William G. Axinn’s article on “The Role of Mass Media”, touches on how they viewed mass media and the effects it has on behavior through attitude change. It alluded to how media is the way in which children form their self-identity. Children become socialized at a very young age through the consumption of what they see and hear from mediums like the media.
Moreover, going off of what I learned in my sociology class, there is a theory called “perpetual discontent”. This is where we are told that what we have in our life is not enough, that in fact, we need the products that are being advertised to us. When you’re given that definition you might be quick to deny that you have ever been controlled by media in such a way, but you’d probably be wrong. Ask yourself if you most often times by brand name items that you always seem commercials for on television. If you were to look to buy laundry detergent would you first choices be Tide or Gain detergent or would you look for off-brand products? We generally tend to trust that what we see in the media is what we should base our choices off of.
So let’s look at how media effects us throughout our daily lives. For instance, let’s take a college student who goes to UCLA, commutes to school, is taking a full load of classes, and also works a part-time job. In a particular day, this person would be exposed to media on his/her way to school as they are driving through the city of Los Angeles. Since there is often a lot of traffic, this person listen’s to National Public Radio as they wait. Once he/she gets to school they text their best friend to meet up with them before class starts. While waiting on their friend, our college student Tweets about the crazy traffic on the 405 freeway that morning. After class, he/she puts in her head phones and listens to their favorite artist while on her way to library to study before he/she has to go to work. Already we have several different sources of media being used by our college student.
And of course, we cannot forget about our social networks. Today, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and (ironically) Tumblr, all play a pivotal role in the dissemination of information in today’s world. What networks like Facebook and Twitter essentially provide is sharing information with friends and sharing “what’s on your mind”. Since these networks have become world-wide, information can be shared with almost anyone. Which is great right? How can there be a problem with that? Well, since having a Facebook or a Twitter has become a norm for this generation it seems these networks never leave our side. What manifests into a media addiction in which a person feels that he/she cannot go with out it. I’m sure most teenagers and young adults will admit that they get distracted because they “went on Facebook” instead of focusing on their homework or even sometimes their job. It becomes part of an everyday routine, where we spend countless hours searching through tweets and status updates. The problem I find is that we tend to start living in a world that isn’t real and where you’re constantly desire to know what everyone else is doing and if he/she happened to ‘like’ your status or if someone retweeted you.
Well, media can be seen pretty much anywhere and everywhere you go, no matter how subtle it may be. Nowadays it’s even more prevalent than ever. You may walk into a grocery store and they advertise their company through social networking mediums like Facebook or Twitter. There are also many other obvious places where we are saturated with advertisement and other marketing ploys. Take Times Square in New York or Las Vegas, Nevada for example. However, there are other places where media preys on our minds that we may not always realize; and in this day in age they might not always be physical places. Since mass communication has gone digital, the possibility for consumption of media is virtually endless. Most popular forms of this are online news and gossip sites like Yahoo!, TMZ, MediaTakeOut, theHollywoodGossip, WorldStarHipHop, etc. As for television, you have: MTV (and shows like Jersey Shore), CNN, E!Television, ESPN, Tosh.O, Jerry Springer, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, and the list continues. Though I could have easily named more, these are some of the most influential examples of media in the world today.
One of the most interesting topics I like to discuss is on media and it’s effects it has on us as a collective society. But first, what is “media”? I define ‘media’ as being the technological provider of mass communication for society. Most people don’t realize how much media plays a part on their daily day-to-day lives. Especially in this generation, media can pretty much consume us, as we unintentionally crave to consume media. Don’t think so? Well count how often you go on Facebook, post tweets to Twitter, listen to your favorite music artist, text your best friend, listen to the radio on your way to work or school, or even if you or your parents watch the local news every day. All of that is media. My main concern with this medium however, is the message(s) that it sends to us. We often have to realize that the media is ultimately a business with a quota to fill. Can they get you to buy their product? And if you don’t already have it, they have ways to make you feel as if you need it. But it doesn’t stop there. Media also manipulates the way in which we think and how we should view the world. So in this blog I want to elaborate on a few of the ways media gets into our heads on a day-to-day basis and how it puppeteers the ways in which society operates.