Is the media something that is helping our society or destroying it?
Media anxieties have been prevalent ever since media existence; from the invention of the printing press to modern day social media platforms and the dark unknown of the internet. As media has increased, so have the amount of anxieties that society has about the effects of this new, completely foreign and therefore ~terrifying~, technology.
It freaks people out because they don’t know how to deal with the change it’ll bring, the possible dangers of it and therefore the natural reaction is to view it in a negative way. Ultimately, to blame the societal changes and issues that occur around the time of new media emergence, on the new media itself.
But is there any causality between the media and the negative effects it’s associated with?
Is the television to blame for an obese child who watches it consistently?
Are the video or computer games to blame for the violent teenager?
The real question in relation to media anxieties, I believe, is how much of the responsibility should the media take in comparison to the individual themselves?
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I don’t think the media is the only, or even the most culpable, factor to blame.
But what about the responsibility of a magazine or newspaper, or the runway itself, to the a girl with an eating disorder or body image issues?
In her TedxuConn Talk, Renee Engeln speaks about the effect of the media on body image, particularly focusing on how the images of models, photoshopped or not, affect the minds of young women. Regardless of the knowledge women have of the modelling industry and the unrealistic representation of the women on the screens, Engeln believes that “knowing isn’t enough” and women still are drastically affected by the way media portrays beauty, fashion, and happiness.
The problem with the blaming the media for societal issues and changes is when society blames ONLY the media. The media anxiety takes over – and other factors that contribute to societal changes and issues are ignored.
Media is an easy victim. I don’t believe that media doesn’t have a role to play in the societal changes or the negative societal issues we experience. But it is not the only factor in these issues, and the anxiety of people toward new media often leads to society blaming media for anything it can.
TedxUconn, Renee Engeln. (2013). An Epidemic of Beauty Sickness. [Online Video]. 21 October. Available from: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/An-Epidemic-of-Beauty-Sickness;search%3Arenee%20engeln. [Accessed: 10 March 2016].