There are two people who are credited with the foundations of media. One is an inventor and the other a philosopher. But before you click your remote one more time, let me tell you that media is one of the top three things that shape your life!
Top Ten Tips for Conscious Media
First, media was invented! Philo T. Farnsworth introduced television to the world around 1938, with the hope that it would be a tool for education and a means for people in other countries to connect. And it did – and it has! And it has expanded so far beyond his original vision for media that he might not recognize the reality of media today. Did you see the movie, Forever Young? Mel Gibson is frozen and wakes up 53 years later to see Suzanne Sommers using the thigh master and Ronald Reagan as president.
Then, in the 1960s, early in TV history, Marshall McLuhan wrote about the power of the media to influence people, telling us that we become what we observe. He warned of media’s all-consuming effect, of TV especially, how it bound people without real participation. His over-used and often misunderstood phrase, “the media is the message” became a part of pop culture and has been with us since the 60’s. He considered electric media an extension of ourselves, and without any awareness that there would be an Internet, it has played out on smart phones, ipads, Instagram and social media. He even appeared in a 1977 Woody Allen movie Annie Hall, talking about his theories. McLuhan’s early work inspired the magazine, Wired, a publication about everything techy. I have it in my office waiting room because it is so requested!
His consideration of the media and its effects on us played out in later research on the power of TV to educate. Albert Bandura’s theories of learning explained why the models with which you surround yourself could be a source of either good or harm. He proposed that you become involved in the emotions of the characters you watch and develop a desire to model yourself after them. How does this work?
After the significant people in your life, such as parents and teachers, and peers, media takes the next place as an influencer in your life. And that may be fine, but it may not be, so viewing consciously is a simple solution to managing the influence of TV, movies, magazines, social media, billboards, video games and the Internet.
Statistics from 2009 indicate that Americans average four hours and forty-nine minutes of TV watching a day. If you watch the morning and evening news each day for an hour each time, that is close to half of the national average. Add in a couple favorite shows, and you are there! And now basic cable television networks compete with Hulu, Amazon, and others that support McLuhan’s idea that media takes new shapes and suppresses the old ones, never letting go until the whole of media is a new idea.
So decide how media will affect you; become a conscious viewer. My most recent award-winning publication, Get Reel: Produce Your Own Life shows how to recognize the messages and the spins of fictional and non-fictional characters. And why would you want to step back from all forms of media to see the spin? Because they change you, your ideas, thoughts, self-esteem and goals, while educating you and entertaining you. And when you are the one in charge of your brain, you have the power to change the world!