We’ve finally reached the pinnacle of our cyber journey of self-discovery. I believe that my perceptions and expectations of the media, and my evaluation of the mediums in which it operates have been significantly spun around on their heads, gone all tops-turvy and gotten a little bit nauseous.
It really perturbed me to observe how I had been digesting messages about the horrors of ‘media effects’ and forming rather uninformed opinions based on flawed research methodologies and ignoring contextual variables. This issue often has a ‘shock factor’ to it, and by assessing my past research on the subject, I could see how I had, in part, bought into that notion.
These ‘contextual variables’ I speak of relate to how individuals in particular situations react differently to these ‘shocking’ images, events or ideas. And so we find ourselves in the magical land of semiotics. The language of semiotics is a rather complicated one as you’ll find that every person’s dialect is different. The meaning they take from a message, otherwise known as connotations, will differ from person to person based on their socialisation and the context in which the message is sent and received. In studying this concept I’ve come to understand why certain groups or individuals react more dramatically than others over particular representations of an issue. I also now know why I can’t get everyone to just agree with me. It’s a rather inconvenient fact..
Speaking of inconvenience, isn’t it annoying how there are a bunch of people up in the ‘Media Mogul’ office trying to dictate how we react to these messages and ideas? Media ownership was really on the outside of my radar until I started this degree. I now realise that as an aspiring journalist, and indeed an average human, the owners of media outlets have a huge amount of control over what messages I receive, and try to influence how I interpret all manner of issues in an attempt to uphold their commercial and political interests. I now see the potential of a more diverse online media space not run by traditional owners, and the value in government run news outlets such as the ABC or SBS which are supposedly unbiased.
But hey, if every news room in the world was burnt down, perhaps we could go on living with only the other aspects of the mediated public sphere. The supposedly frivolous or commercial elements in the public sphere have their own special ways of covering current issues and igniting important debate. Through media vectors such as hilarious sitcoms, insightful ideas can be presented and misinterpreted, just like any traditional news-type media form.
Are you seeing the connections? These issues are interdependent and their final product is often a rising sense of indignation and panic, moral panic, to be precise. People are often blaming and using the media to reflect on social issues and then escalating the ‘problem’ to a point of hysteria. Sex, drugs, the internet; it’s all horrifying stuff, and everyone, in both the media and public, is going to have their own way or ‘remedying’ the situation. Yet it seems that the more we attempt to moderate controversial issues, the more concern and conflict we ignite. But hey, the more we worry, the more articles we read titled ’10 ways to reduce stress’. Funny that, isn’t it..