Mass media is an extremely pertinent component of everyone’s lives. We are currently living in an information-saturated world. Although this carries both advantages and disadvantages, I first think it is important to discuss the impact of the media. In his book Media Literacy, author W. James Potter notes that on average, people have been increasing their exposure time to media messages every year. I do not find this surprising, as media is all around us. I wake up in the morning, roll over, and grab my IPhone. I lay in bed while checking my text messages, email, Instagram, and Snapchats. Before even stepping foot out of bed, I have already been hit with an influx of media messages. Although this is simply my experience with media, mass media is capable of influencing much larger audiences.
Mass media is produced and intended to reinforce specific desired behaviors. Potter cites that the amount of time spent shopping is significantly higher in the United States, when compared to any other country. The shopping behavior is something we have been reinforced to do. Although I knew the impact of the mass media on shopping habits, I never considered just how much we are “persuaded” to shop. I tend to think that all the daily advertisements I see promoting clothing companies have no effect on my spending, but this is not necessarily true. The point is that I do SEE the ads. I may think it doesn’t make an impact, but later may shop for something that was displayed in that same advertisement with no thought as to why I am shopping for the item.
The mass media is not always related to brand promotion. One of the primary forms of mass media is a news outlet. I strongly dislike watching the news on television, or even listening on the radio. Some may suggest that is an easy way to become uneducated or uncultured, but I disagree. I find news outlets to share more tragic, devastating, or negative stories than those that are uplifting. When watching the news, you are likely to hear of murders, deaths, and similar occurrences. This paints an overall bleak picture of the world we live in. Instead, I chose to get my newsworthy information online, where I am better able to select what media messages I receive. While I do not undermine the importance of mass media with regard to the spread of information, I find much of it to be grim.
I think this picture is a great visual image for the overarching influence of the mass media. There are so many media messages being intentionally and unintentionally spread throughout society. With an increase in media literacy, and close attention to the messages that we encounter, we have the ability to change the way mass media influences our lives.
Photo: http://sites.psu.edu/jennyabramsfye/wp-content/uploads/sites/28636/2015/07/massmedia.png (Found via Google)