Defining the Mass Media

September 30, 2009
What exactly is the “mass media?” According to the dictionary, the term “mass media” refers to all of the communications media that reach a large audience, particularly television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet.

John Berger discusses the presence of humans in images presented to the mass media. Berger states that, “The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object-and most particularly an object of vision: a sight” (Berger 41). Regrettably, I have to agree with this statement. When it comes to paintings of the past, a female simply appeared to represent the power of the male who owned her. This is shockingly similar to the treatment of women in modern mass media. They are still treated as though they are objects. Women are used to appeal to females who want to be like them, and males who want to have them. They are often seen wearing little clothing, and are dismembered in photographs. Only the arms or legs of a woman may be featured, and they may be situated in a vulnerable position. Berger accurately describes this exploitation of women in the media, and tells us that the only way to make progress in the future is to examine the past, analyzing the impact of media messages on both men and women.

Maybe the mass media is something more than the communication of information to the world. From oil paintings to contemporary advertising, the mass media has become a symbolic fiction. The way we perceive reality is shaped by what we see in the mass media, which is dangerous to our culture as a whole. Accepting women as objects is considered to be normal, despite the damage this tolerance causes the average woman. The photographs we see in the media present unattainable images of beauty, wealth, and success. If we believe this to be reality, it will be impossible to find happiness in our everyday lives.

Works Cited

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation      and Penguin Books, 2008.

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A Blessing or a Curse?

September 23, 2009
The Internet is enormous. That is as simple as it gets folks. The Internet is the most powerful tool when it comes to the dissemination of media. As I dive into my second blog, I invite you to consider the implications of the World Wide Web!

The Internet has a large impact on the way modern culture works. We IM eat other to get together for lunch. We send emails to keep in touch with long lost friends. We use websites for research instead of actual libraries and tangible books. The Internet is considered to be a blessing by some, and a curse by others. Without the Internet, we might still be writing letters to each other. Without the Internet, print journalism would not be at risk.

Marshall McLuhan, a media philosopher, believes that the media has some significant impacts on man. In an interview with Playboy Magazine, entitled “The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan,” McLuhan states that, “the use of the electronic media constitutes a break boundary between fragmented Gutenberg man and integral man, just as phonetic literacy was a break boundary between oral-tribal man and visual man.” The Internet is an extremely aesthetic tool, and McLuhan hypothesized that the transition to an image based culture causes numerous distresses in our society. The Internet’s purpose is to supply us with information. However, humans have learned to abuse the web, and treat is as a ubiquitous communication tool. This is extremely harmful to our natural instincts, and we are easily lost in a world of visual words and images.

Why is it that humans are so mesmerized by the Internet and advancements in technology? If it takes us away from a natural state of being, are we considered to be any less human? Perhaps it is because we are stimulated by the ability to connect in so many ways by the Internet. Maybe it is because we can escape the realities of everyday life with the click of a mouse. Or maybe humans are just curious about something new and complex, and are stimulated by the Internet’s capacity to operate.

Based on those assumptions, shifting from a world made of completely organic material to a technologically advanced environment does seem to take away from a natural existence. The oral tradition of communication is almost obsolete with the capabilities of the Internet, which is the most basic form of human interaction. It is undeniable that most people do not consider the implications of the Internet, and McLuhan acknowledges this with his “fish out of water theory.” This theory states that we cannot know our surroundings until we experience something new. Such a theory leads me to question what new technologies will evolve in the future that will help us to see and comprehend the effect of the Internet on our current lives. We need to consider the Internet’s influence on our lives now, before we are completely stripped of natural abilities.

Moreover, it is important to discuss Neil Postman in regards to the growing influence of the Internet. In an address called “The Humanism of Media Ecology,” Postman writes, “A medium is a technology within which a culture grows; that is to say, it gives form to a culture’s politics, social organization, and habitual ways of thinking.” From this, one can obtain an accurate definition of a medium. We can see that the Internet is a medium that allows an online culture to grow. The Internet creates a vast network of ethics, interaction, and personal entertainment to the entire world. It is the medium that unites human beings through social connections, provides online advertising, and allows convenient access to news and important information. The Internet is a source of anything media related, and provides us with knowledge on any topic we desire. Postman concluded that this interaction between humans and the media provide a culture with character and symbolic balance, which is demonstrated through all of the above criteria.

Obviously, the idea of the Internet has become quite controversial. Without it, some art forms would still be in existence. Without it, our culture would not be as efficient as it has become. So, is the Internet a blessing or a curse?

(This is Blog Topic #2: The Ecology of Media)

Works Cited

Postman, Neil. “The Humanism of Media Ecology.” Media Ecology      Association. 17 June 2000. Web. 9 Oct. 2009. <http://www.media-     ecology.org/publications/MEA_proceedings/v1/humanism_of_media
     _ecology.html>.

“The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan.” Playboy Magazine. March      1960. Web. 22 Sept. 2009.      <http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~gisle/links/mcluhan/pb.html&gt;.


Blogging Blunders?

September 15, 2009
Stop the press! Sarah Thompson is officially a blogger!

While preparing to write this post, I’d never so much as read an academic blog, let alone set up my own public writing portal. I was heading for a serious strain of academic blogging blunders that would only begin with the trivial process of setting up a blog. Lucky for me, it was pretty simple. A quick search of free blogging sites, a couple visits to other academic blogs, and voila, I had my very own blog!

The amount of pride that I feel knowing my brilliant ideas and genius criticisms will now be published for the entire world to read is slightly overwhelming. Now, in my humble opinion, that is quite the responsibility. The public is going to be relying on me for information. The public is going to be depending on me for accurate responses. The public is going to be turning to me in the event of an academic crisis, using the words of my very own mind to contribute to their insights. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. The bottom line is that the work I do is no longer just for the professor’s eyes. My work is out there for anyone in the entire academic globe to read. That is almost unfathomable to me, but I’m up to the challenge. Really, I am.

After two hundred and fifty words, I am now an official blogger on all topics media related. Trust me, I will keep you updated on the media world!