View Full Version : Mass Media vs. Independent Thinking
04-11-2012, 11:42 AM
Now this is an issue that's bothered me for a long time. I absolutely hate--hate--HATE it when people blame the media for things. People seem to think that independent thinking and mass media cannot coexist on many levels. They seem to think one cannot watch movies, play video games, and listen to certain types of music without being some kind of drone or sheep. As if media is this all-powerful mind control device that cannot be overcome. I've always thought that was really stupid. These people are giving the media, which is mostly an entertainment outlet, way too much credit.
And in thinking this way, these people start trying to hamper or limit the media on the fly, saying shit like "oh, we shouldn't have violence in games", "oh we shouldn't broadcast beauty pageants", etc, etc. Now, don't get me wrong, there are a few things that SHOULDN'T ever be broadcast, but come on really? Are you suggesting that these things affect people on such a level that it will destroy their daily lives? Media is NOT THAT influential or, at least, it isn't if you don't want it to be.
So these people who pretend like they respect "independent thought" and thus feel they must hamper the media are actually people who cannot think for themselves, or do not believe in thinking for oneself. A person who truly respects independent thought wouldn't give a single crap about "media influence", but would rather be consumed in teaching people how to process the information in a logical and categorically appropriate way. In other words, you don't need to destroy the media in order to have independent thinking. You just need more of the latter. But where are our parents, role models and authority figures to teach such a thing?
I guess it would be easier to destroy the media than to rely on parents to actually do their job.
04-11-2012, 03:30 PM
It's the Mothers of Invention versus the Mothers of Prevention now and forever, and it's been a fairly balanced battle so far so I've never been to interested in it. However, some years back when Mass Effect was new there where some controversy that wasn't actually a controversy. In the end it turned out that it had been blown out of proportion by journalists and others because they saw it as an opportunity to boost their careers. I'm talking about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKzF173GqTU
And that bothers me, because it means that you can never trust something that media reports so you need to check a lot of different sources all the time, I can't even be sure that the stuff about the mass effect thing above is entirely true.
As we all know:
"The problem with quotes found on the internet is that it's almost impossible to determine their authenticity" Abraham Lincoln
04-11-2012, 03:31 PM
It might be popular to blame the media in the media (oh ze irony) and among people who haven't studied a Media Studies or Sociology, but in academia, where it actually matters, there's been an debate between those who believe the media influences people, those who believe it doesn't, and those who are in-between for decades. Though you probably won't like the idea of independent thinking, since it means admitting people are people and not robots.
Because my intellectual stance is consistent, I think the extent to which people are influenced by the media is variable depending on individual psychology.
04-11-2012, 04:14 PM
I believe that the some people do whatever trend is up on with the media, also there is another group of people that cares only what people they interact with think, and then a third group who doesn't care at all about the media. However because they all exist they effect each other in some way or another.
Really I believe it depends on how much confidence you have in deciding what to do in anything.
Also people who blame the media are people who are just to afraid to be afraid, and should pay more attention to their kids.
04-11-2012, 04:34 PM
Though you probably won't like the idea of independent thinking, since it means admitting people are people and not robots.
That's exactly it, though. People who constantly blame every fault of society on media influence don't understand that people are people, not just detritivores feeding off any crap the media tells them. If one respects individual thought, one should teach individual thought, not demonize the media. Demonizing the media is to admit that individual thought can easily be subjugated by it.
04-11-2012, 05:58 PM
^ I know. It's just that you claiming people are people and not mere products of their environment or culture seems to go against every argument you've made against other things. Drugs are bad, people can't be trusted. Strong government is needed, people need to be controlled.
04-11-2012, 07:11 PM
Unlike the influence of media, the influence of drugs and crime are not so easily dismissed. It takes quite a bit more than independent thinking to cure a drug addiction and a criminal record. Totally different issues. Not to mention media in itself has no real consequences.
04-12-2012, 04:01 AM
But the assumptions that underlie your arguments for strong government and against drug use are the same as those you dismiss in this thread. By saying that people are capable of controlling their behaviour regardless of media intake, or that media shouldn't be restricted because people can recognise the difference between reality and fantasy, you're appealing to the concept of self-rulership and self-regulation, both of which are only effective if people are capable of ruling and regulating themselves without appeal to a higher power. Do you see why I think your stances on this and on drugs/crime are incompatible? By saying we need strong government, you dismiss community policing. By saying we need hard restrictions on drugs, you dismiss drug users as not in control of their consumption or their actions under the influence. Our law courts recognise that even under the influence, people are still in control: being drunk is not a temporary madness defence. And yet you'd have people self-regulate with regards to the media.
It seems like you make arguments based on your own selfish concerns, then pretend your proposed measures are for the good of society to create a veneer of benevolence.
04-12-2012, 10:41 AM
I base my opinions off of two things: severity and direct consequence.
Media: no direct consequences and general lack of severity.
Drugs: direct consequences--the influence itself is evident, even chemical--and, for those affected, extreme severity.
Drugs are at least, in part, a direct cause of their consequences.
Media is not.
Also, teaching independent thought is a tenet of good parenting. Parents are expected to teach this as it is well within their power to do. Fighting a drug war, on the other hand, is not. The average parent is not equipped with the necessary tools to fight drug addiction, drug-induced crime, overdose and the irreversible consequence of death.
So dude you're barking up the wrong tree here. You are comparing two entirely different issues. Yeah the thoughts behind it are conflicting, but that's because the issues are in two entirely different orbits of severity.
I would let an inexperienced stranger pour water for me. It's a simple task, almost any person is equipped to do it and, even if he spills the water, the consequence is not that huge. You just wipe it up and try again.
I would not, on the other hand, let an inexperienced stranger change my car battery. It's a complex task, only some people are qualified and equipped to do it and the consequences of putting wrong parts in my car can be extremely severe or even irreversible.
So in other words: it's not too much to ask for average people to moderate their kids (something they should be doing in the first place). It's a helluva lot to ask for average people to fight a drug war.
04-12-2012, 10:54 AM
It just sounds to me like you're saying its not even a problem and people that say it is are crying wolf, but then you go and say that parents should be moderating their kids, so it obviously IS a problem. I guess your intro to the subject just seems a bit conflicting. Far from being easy to avoid I think that mass media has a stron influence on individuals. Kids especially are vulnerable (as you point out). I remember my sister and I were not allowed to watch 'The Simpsons' till we were much older, and that is something I was glad of when I was older and saw young children strangling each other homer and bart style. Once a kid gets a bad idea into their heads it seems harder to correct than if they never had the idea at all. I agree that parents need to play a bigger role in teaching their kids to think beyond mass media, but even if you succeed at that its not going to prevent the influence of mass media. Therefore I believe it is important that we place some restrictions on content in mass media: Even if its just trying to imbue kids shows with morals.
Even when parents think they are doing a good job and that their kids watch 'moral' cartoons they can fail. For example growing up I literally BELIEVED that when I was a teenager I would undergo some kind of effortless transformation into a gracefull, beautiful, blonde and perfect young woman as per disney movies. I quiet literally believed it. I'm 20 now but I still feel like I am coming to terms with the reality that I will never be anything like I expected to be.
04-12-2012, 11:56 AM
I'm not saying media influence doesn't exist. I'm saying it's easily combated by conventional teaching and supervision that is supposed to be a given in the first place. So why attempt to dismantle the media when all that's required to develop independent thought is a little guidance (that, again, is supposed to be a //given//). My issue is with people acting like the media and independent thought cannot coexist, hence one must be destroyed for the other to flourish.
And no offense, but your example is a cited failure. Your parents may have individually eliminated "bad influences" from your media diet, but they did not teach you independent thought. I'm not saying parents are supposed to sit around and hand-hold their kids through every instance of media. What I'm talking about is teaching a man to fish--teaching your kids how to process information in contextually appropriate ways. In other words, Disney movies -- regardless of how "moral" -- should not have affected you any differently than a Rambo flick. If you had developed the thought process I'm talking about at that time, you would've been able to classify that as "fantasy". What I'm talking about is separating fantasy from reality, not gauging the appropriateness of programs. Separating "good" from "bad", especially in terms of heavily dramatized media, will only lead to extremes on one side of the spectrum (in your case, Disney movies). Separating fantasy from reality will always keep someone well-adjusted. But I mean if you were like 5 or 6 years old, that's not expected anyway since you were still in early development.
The media is not forcing anyone to do anything so you can't blame them for every bad thing that goes on. Parents need to teach their kids the difference between reality and fantasy so they know the real consaquences of their choices and actions. It's like people saying "THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT". We know the devil did not pop up and say hey dude drown your wife or anything like that because how can something that doesn't have a physically tangible being make you do anything?
Parents take no interest in their children until they have to punish them because some one else saw them do wrong or they fuck up major. I just realized at work that the reason parents don't keep their kids while they shop in a store is because that would be taking an interest in them and exerting to much energy to actively watch them. So it's easier to let them run around wild and tear things apart than to just sit there and teach them that you don't do this or that.
No one explains to their kids that cartoons and shows are fantasy and doing most of the things that are on the shows are not acceptable or will get them in trouble. They yell and point the finger that it shouldn't be there in the first place but it's a parents responsibility to teach so they have failed and lash out at the influence the media has instead of looking at themselves and realizing that they haven't been doing a good job. Even keeping kids from watching shows like the Simpsons is not going far enough IMO but again because most of the time the reason is "That's a stupid show I don't like it and I don't want you to watch." which makes kids want to see it more because mommy said no.
Then these misinformed kids grow up and start doing stupid shit like the guy who decided to go on a joyride GTA style. I know there's a wider spectrum of people blaming the media for the bad stuff happening in the world but I like to focus on the parents who place blame (one of my cousins refuses to let his daughter watch spongebob because it's filled with subliminal messages so it's nothing but Christian kids shows for his daughter. Yeah because there is NO BRAINWASHING going on there.). I do agree that the media has some responsibility as to what they put on and where (Like the commercial Cype was telling us all about on the nickelodeon channel) so they should allso be informing kids that what they put on is fantasy and make believe (in other words it's all just pretend.
04-12-2012, 07:40 PM
I know there's a wider spectrum of people blaming the media for the bad stuff happening in the world but I like to focus on the parents who place blame (one of my cousins refuses to let his daughter watch spongebob because it's filled with subliminal messages so it's nothing but Christian kids shows for his daughter.
Ahh. Over-sheltering is just as bad as unguided media consumption. In this case your cousin is kind of doing the brainwashing himself by repeatedly exposing her to the same ideas and concepts instead of letting her absorb a broad range of media. He is not helping her think independently either, so much as he is simply eliminating sources of unwanted media from reaching is daughter. Instead of teaching her how to process a wide range of information, he has simply narrowed down what information she receives to a dangerous extent. Now when she is presented with new information, she won't know how to respond to it.
04-12-2012, 08:57 PM
It's all very well and good to say 'parents should teach their kids free thought' but how do you actually do that? Kids are designed to be sponges that learn from their environment. It can obviously be difficult to get them to think more clearly about what they are seeing at a young age, especially if its a very heavily saturated message in the mass media.
04-12-2012, 09:11 PM
And this is not something to consider before having a child? How to teach your child to be a well-adjusted person in society should NOT be an afterthought to birthing them. Now, I'm not saying it's easy. Depending on the child it could be a helluva process.
But I always had older friends and mentors who were open and willing to answer my questions. I also had people who weren't afraid to expose me to topics, even if they were personally uncomfortable about it. It's extremely common for parents not to talk about certain subjects with their kids out of fear of alienating them or creating kinks in the parent-child relationship. But the worst possible thing you could do is leave an inexperienced child to ponder sensitive topics on their own, so input of some sort is invaluable. I think parents have to present a sort of openness to topics. One issue is that parents create too many boundaries, which leads to the inevitable exclusion of important topics in household discourse. For example, in a house where violent video games, cursing and mentions of sex are strictly prohibited, the opportunities to discuss these topics may never arise.
04-13-2012, 12:39 PM
You seem to be following two contradicting strands of argument. First you claim that the media cannot influence people in any significant way. Then you claim that authority figures aren't doing their jobs in teaching kids how to regard the media without being "brainwashed".
I may be reading your arguments wrong, but if the first is true then the second is irrelevant.
04-13-2012, 02:07 PM
Fighting a drug war, on the other hand, is not. The average parent is not equipped with the necessary tools to fight drug addiction, drug-induced crime, overdose and the irreversible consequence of death.
So dude you're barking up the wrong tree here. You are comparing two entirely different issues. Yeah the thoughts behind it are conflicting, but that's because the issues are in two entirely different orbits of severity.
"Fight a drug war"? You're being melodramatic on purpose. The current state of affairs in Mexico - where drug cartels control a significant portion of the nation's wealth - is a drug war. Indeed, preventing violence in places like Mexico is a major argument for legislation. The only sense in which dealing with the social consequences of legalising drugs is a 'drug war' is in the sense of 'the war on drugs', which is the idiotic result of a moral panic from the 1950s, and linked to government corruption/authoritarianism in more ways than one.
In addition, if the issues are seperated by severity, is there a line you're prepared to defend that seperates them? Or is the location of the line subjective? If you can make a good argument for the location of the line, then we can debate that. If, on the other hand, the position of 'the line' is based on 'I know it when I see it', there can be little difference between the two other than your wish to impose your will on others. If 'the line' is located elsewhere for others, then we're in the realm of subjectivity, and we can dismiss your 'I know it when I see it' as 'just Cype's opinion'.
Separating fantasy from reality will always keep someone well-adjusted. But I mean if you were like 5 or 6 years old, that's not expected anyway since you were still in early development.
Few studies in sociology or developmental psychology back up this common assumption; more recent studies show that most children can distinguish between reality and fantasy at a younger age than traditionally thought possible.
04-13-2012, 06:40 PM
You seem to be following two contradicting strands of argument. First you claim that the media cannot influence people in any significant way.
It cannot. A person's actions cannot be the direct consequence of the media.
Then you claim that authority figures aren't doing their jobs in teaching kids how to regard the media without being "brainwashed".
You are reading my argument wrong. You have to read Psy's post, and then mine, to realize that I used parallel terminology to refer to his statement. He said exposure to one type of media (in this case, Christian media) is brainwashing, to which I responded that the media itself is not doing the brainwashing, the parent who is purposefully feeding a narrow range of information to their child is doing the brainwashing. This is not the fault of the media itself, but the practice of the person who is using it in such a way.
In addition, if the issues are seperated by severity, is there a line you're prepared to defend that seperates them.
Our urban centers are ridden with drug related crimes. I don't think it's melodramatic to classify the presence of organized drug-based crime and violence as a drug war. Maybe the drug war is not everywhere, but it does exist in certain places.
And yeah, there is a line. Like the tens of thousands of drug-related deaths, which can be directly linked to the usage of drugs by way of chemical property, that happen yearly. As opposed to the handful of "blame it on the media" deaths that happen over the course of a decade. Of the major ones, I recall the kid who piledrove a little girl to death and the three kids who, for some reason, hung themselves after watching Saddam's execution. And, to be honest, it's a wonder why anyone would hang themselves after watching a guy die from being hung. I don't think an execution remotely even encourages that.
EDIT: That is an interesting study, but far too simplistic. What you have nowadays are things like Grand Theft Auto where realistic, believable characters in realistic, believable settings are committing realistic acts of violence, but in the manner of fantasy. What needs to be taught is not simply classifying obvious iconography as "real" or "fantasy", but the concepts wherein something that's extremely believable is not necessarily "real".
This is something that could and normally would go up in the LGBT thread but I decided it allso fit here.
You will have to fallow the link as I am unable to copy and paste from this site with my phone.
04-24-2012, 07:15 AM
Too f*ing long. Sorry, I know it's not going to be read since it's a block post...but I just felt like putting my thoughts, regardless of if they're read. Makes me feel better, anyway.
I think my opinions on the media fall in the middle. On one hand, I agree with Cyp about how parent's have the job of teaching their children to not take everything at face value and understand there's more to an issue than what we see before us either on the television, or sometimes in real life. I agree that we can't blame the media, or books, or Internet, or whatever for how a person ends up acting. It's like the people who try to ban or censor books because an idea might "influence" a child a certain way.
However, I also understand that the media does have an effect on us and our perception of the world, and I think can at times be blamed for various reactions and backlash. I mean, unfortunately, people are sheep at times even after they've been taught to think for themselves. Psy's Bill O'Reilly post is a really good example of how media can influence people: it gives them something to quote and justify their beliefs with, because rather than looking at something like O'reilly objectively and actually realizing he's just stating an opinion--not fact--people often times take his word as the truth, and feel justified if harboring whatever belief it is they might have (which can in turn, lead to actions like hate crimes and the like.) Is it the show's fault? Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to tell. Probably not, because someone who'd do something harmful to others has something missing to begin with (take the Manson family, for example. Are the Beatles to blame for their lyrics? I personally don't think so, but there were many people who did.)
I think that's the major flaw of mass media, is that even though time and time again we've been shown that information is not always correct or set in stone, people have grown to trust the media and take their word for it. Not all people, and not always, but enough. I mean, we're not still in the "War of the World Days" where people are going to fly into mass hysterics due to a broad cast, but I think it still has an effect on our thoughts and actions, even if just in a subconscious way.
Did any of that make sense? I guess I'm trying to say, I don't believe in censorship, but I do think the media should be held to a higher standard than it's fallen to today. Rather than having opinion pieces and talk shows/discussions where people's opinions are included, I think the news really needs to be non-bias: sensationalism, like we see today. NPR does a decent job of trying to show both sides of an issue, or conflict (I listened to a few shows where they were talking about Syria and earlier than that they did coverage of Gaddafi and the conflict going on in Libya.) I mean, yeah, most people want non-bias (that's a given) but it's really not what we have going on right now.
On a side note, and I hate to bring this up, wasn't mass media and brainwashing used uh...by Hitler? And I know not all people fell for it (an aunt related by marriage on my mom's side hated the Nazis, in spite of her older brother being one is just one example.) I mean, yes, the hate and negative sentiments need to exist already, but the media can definitely make a bad situation worse. It's sad, but no matter how much you try to teach people independent thinking, there's going to be a large majority that's still looking around trying to figure what everyone else is going to do. It's just in a lot of people's nature to do so (that's why people can be easily lead or deceived at times.) Still, I can't say I condone censorship of opinions, and I can't say the media is to blame for everyone's hate crime or actions...I just think the two aren't mutually exclusive--people are a product of more than just their parent's and teacher's upbringing. I mean, experience is a major part of it, too. So, raising them to be independent thinkers may not work, because there are outside influences affecting the personality also. I think I'm just contradicting myself now, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at--it's not a black and white issue of "if you raise your kids right, then it doesn't matter what the media produces." Likewise, one can't say "the media is to blame, because they only showed one side of an issue, and I didn't take the time to research or think for myself, so my actions are the fault of the media."
I'm going to stop there before I sound dumber than I already do...>_>
I don't know if it's all brainwashing. It could also be intimidation and going with the flow as to why people followed him. I couldn't find the exact video of it but it's similar to this (Milgram Study):
Basically, there's three people. One is the learner and the other is the teacher who is under the supervision of the scientist (or authority figure). If the learner gets something wrong, they get shocked as punishment. The shocks intensity goes up over time if they continually get answers wrong. (See where this is going?) Anyways, most people will do as they are told and hurt someone even though no one's pointing a gun to their head and they can walk away.
Back on topic:
This is like a Catch-22. Even though we value society and following the norm, we also value individualism and people who pursue what they like and believe in. But to break away from the pack is a hard road to follow because you can become ostracized, bullied, and who knows what else just for not being like everyone else. It's probably easier to be (and think) like everyone else because then you won't stand out.
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