Media is now an integral part of society. It is news, entertainment, and opinion. It is writing, music, and video. Media is heavily relied upon to keep us current and informed. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression”, which is how it has been used. However, I feel we’ve overstepped the boundaries.
As a medium of cultivation, the media shapes our culture. In modern America we are dependent on smartphones and the Internet. These forms of media connect us through social media and inform us through online news sites. We can now research information quickly online versus laboriously via print. Modern media is now the mustang to the previous Pony Express. In our culture we want information now, a mindset shaped by the media. Unfortunately, due to the media our culture has become lazy. Back when space was an issue in a newspaper, each article was carefully proofread and checked for accuracy. Space was money. Nowadays with push button publishing anything can be uploaded to the Internet. Space is free. This leads to blog posts ridden with grammatical errors and inaccuracy. People are too lazy to edit now, and a quick spell check doesn’t cut it. Additionally our culture is relying too heavily on the media to conduct their daily affairs. With Bank of America’s new mobile banking, checks can be deposited through a cell phone photo so customers never have to set foot in a bank. They can also transfer money online and have direct deposit or payments made on their accounts. Our culture is also finding it easier to communicate online than in person, diminishing our social skills, which ties into our conveyance.
With modern media people are now sending more e-mails than handwritten letters. (Much to the chagrin of Hallmark and the Postal Service.) Although the message they are trying to send is the same, the conveyance is different. A handwritten letter is more personal than an e-mail, making it more of a social gem. People put more time into writing a letter. The same applies to the news. Previously people would rely on newspapers and the radio to stay informed. Reporters would take the time to check their work before it went to print. Now the news is broadcast 24/7 on television and published much quicker on the Internet. News stories run the risk of inaccuracies as new media allows them publish instantaneously. This means that in an effort to produce a story quicker than the competition, facts and grammar may be compromised. Additionally, with such a large time frame to fill, news stories of little quality or significance are placed in the line-up. Due to new forms of conveyance, anyone can publish anything, which can be argued as either falsifying the truth or as a means of expression.
The media is how we express ourselves. Through visual media such as paintings and photographs, to audio media such as music, to both in the form of cinema, people are able to convey their thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Nowadays, however, people are manipulating previous media and recreating it into something supposedly new. From pointalism to music mixes, it’s difficult to differentiate what is original expression and what was borrowed from another. Because of the media’s effortless spreading and accessibility of expression, it is easy for the masses to recycle it into something different. However, the product is still what its raw materials are. Is the media allowing for individuality to shine, or for plagiarism to take deeper root in society? Although creative, I don’t believe the recycling of previous forms of expression should be deemed unique or new. The message has already been conveyed in the original media form.
Overall I find the media necessary to society, but also detrimental. If all of our affairs- from bill paying to purchases- can be conducted online, we will miss out on social opportunities and become isolated. Furthermore, if we don’t know how to differentiate between fact and fiction, we’ll believe every ridiculous story the Internet has to offer. Finally, with the convenience of push button publishing and re-blogging, it will be difficult to tell what art is original and what is copied. If we can master these issues then the media will be a glorious resource allowing us an increase in productivity and communication. We can accomplish tasks and find information more quickly and easily through a computer, and can learn about breaking news shortly after it happens.
In the 1960’s the Byrds sang, “…there is a time for every purpose under heaven”. Everything has a time and a place, including the media. Society’s use of the media is drastically increasing, and whether this is positive or negative is difficult to determine. Ethically I think we should individually regulate our interactions with the media and judge it based on its quality of cultivation, conveyance, and expression. But even the Byrds infringed upon expression by copying Ecclesiastes 3:1 to make “Turn! Turn! Turn!” one of 1965’s most popular songs.