Is Media Influence A Serious Issue?
Almost every day one person or another is telling us how media influence is affecting our lives, usually for the worse if you believe what they say. Most certainly, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes rely heavily on media influence to keep their people, or their subjects, in line, and in such cases the media is not all that often a source of information known for its truth or objectivity.
Newspapers are privately owned in this country, which is a good thing. Most radio and TV outlets are as well, also a good thing. Some are troubled by the fact that most of our television channels, whether commercial network channels or cable channels, are owned or controlled by one of five major corporations. Bias does creep into the news and into what is sometimes presented, and the news that is reported isn't always "fair and balanced", but still we have a choice as to what we want to watch or listen to, and no matter what opinion or slant on the news may be expressed, there is usually an opposing opinion to be found somewhere.
Donald Duck - Role Model? - Media influence is often derided, usually by those in the media, as being too liberal, yet conservative talk shows abound. The media is often blamed when someone goes berserk and kills a number of people. The Internet is sometimes blamed as well. If one goes back 50 years however, comic books were often held up as contributing to the delinquency of our young people. Even Donald Duck had his violent and often revenge-filled moments, though acts of copycat violence or murder were seldom placed at Disney's doorstep.
Advertising – One Culprit - If there is a danger in media influence, it's probably not from Facebook or YouTube, where strange and sometime sick people can lure innocent people into harmful situations. If there is a villain, it would be advertising, which is probably responsible for disseminating more false or deceptive information that a group of 1,000 commentators or news analysts could every hope to achieve. While some ads are blatant deceptions, to the point of being silly, many on the surface are quietly deceptive, and most for that matter intend to do no harm. Eating a greasy every-thing-on-it-king-sized burger isn't illegal, not is it necessarily a harmful thing to do on occasion, but it certainly isn't healthy. The health issue is of course ignored. Smoking, while no longer advertised as being the thing to do, is still often seen in the form of subliminal messages, movies 50 and 60 years ago being prime perpetrators of subliminal advertising in the tobacco area.
Is Politics Ever Objective? - It could be that we are most often apt to fall victim to media influence when we are hear or see things we want to be told, and not necessarily those things we need to be told. Conservatives prefer listening to conservative viewpoints and liberals to liberal viewpoints. As far as the value of political analysis is concerned, two to four people all shouting at the same time probably won't influence us one way or the other, although we may be entertained, and happy we don't have to make a living that way. It isn't always who may be controlling the airways, but the way they attempt to get their views across, should they choose to do so, that counts.
Kids Are Most Vulnerable - Media influence is very real and something that has to be taken into account and taken seriously, but it isn't the danger that some often portray it as being. Maybe we worry a bit too much about media influence in our lives simply because there are people telling us we should be worried. We definitely need to be aware of what our kids are watching, and take action when necessary when what they are watching or hearing could do them or others harm. For us adults, the main danger is more likely that of making a stupid choice when purchasing something, because it looked so appealing on the boob tube and we just had to have one.
Media influence can be a problem, but at this time, in this country, is probably not a serious one.