Saturday, February 24, 2024

How Television Shapes Our Reality


Fake smiles, fake tears, fake outfits, face ceremonies, fake makeups, fake setups — destroying the thought process of young men and women.

The television has provided us with a paradox of choices to decide from. We have too many choices and find it both perplexing and mind-boggling to choose. Not long ago we only had a national television to choose from and could settle down with what is being aired on it. Now however with the liberty to choose comes the responsibility to choose wisely. Yet most of us believe the instrument that is used for entertainment cannot possibly alter our life choices. We tend to pick whatever drama, entertainment show or news analysis that is being presented. And then we do not take a step back while going through our day-to-day affairs whether there is any effect on our minds from the shows that we watched on our weekend breaks.

When the news of corona virus broke out, countless speculations were being made. The world was divided in so many sectors about what was the validity of its claims. Life before corona virus seems like a peaceful slumber from which we were rudely awakened. But the strange thing seen in the divided state of people who did or did not believe in the validity of the deadliness of this virus was a single element. The media they consumed. Especially which news channels they were getting their news from.

According to a survey , 80% of the Americans stated that they saw news in the onset of the virus which was later termed as fake. There was a lot of paranoia among the masses due to all this confusion. This was a practical example of detrimental effects of unchecked media new coverage.

However, it is not only the news that can be perilous for human mind and the spreading of harmful narratives. Entertainment industry has a large influence on us. That is not only television. But in recent days, YouTube has also become a prominent source of entertainment for youngsters and elders alike. YouTube gives people the autonomy to post however they like. The posts are largely unrestricted. What gets popular is largely based upon the algorithm. With the corona virus spread, YouTube also had to double the monitoring of false information being spread. Many videos were age-restricted or completely taken down as a result. But what YouTube cannot properly monitor is the spread of harmful messages being promoted in its entertainment-based videos. There is absolutely no check and check and balance in accordance to that.

Our World View:

media window

Imagine growing old in a world of infinite outlets to get entertainment from. Thousands of different visuals presenting you with many, often conflicting ideas and then having to decide which one should affect how you view the world. But what is worse is actually not knowing, how damning the effect of these outlets is on your perception of the world. Especially in the ages where our brain has not fully developed itself and we are still learning and adapting to our surroundings. In that case, unmonitored access to internet or television can have grave consequences.

These entertainment sources are not going to be places where your child just has fun. These are the places where he learns many new concepts, engages with people online or even has life altering experiences. The internet has become a world of its own. Not long ago we used to debate about how it warps our reality but to a certain extent, it has become our reality. The need for more and more laws and regulatory boards for these outlets increases each day. Moreover, we must protect minors online. The responsibility lies both on parents and the governments.

How Media Affects Our Social Reality:

Our pre-conceived notions about others are not just the results of our genes. The environment plays a huge role in how our mind takes in the external, social reality. The media you consume, the messages being provided by that media has a huge consequence on how you go about your everyday life.

What would you assume when you see someone wearing certain type of clothes?

For instance, imagine you see someone wearing ragged clothes. Your mind might automatically assume that the person is poor because they did not have better clothes to wear. But that could be entirely untrue. Perhaps they had sent all their clothes to washing. Perhaps they just like wearing raggedy clothes. But you would not really take the time of your day to go through all these equally plausible reasons for someone behaving in a particular manner. That is because your pre-conceived ideas are forming the conclusions for you.

You in turn might be surprised if you see that very person getting into a big, lavish car. You would pause and wonder but just consider that particular instant to be a anomaly.

Cultivation Theory:

Cultivation theory unveils the detrimental effects of overexposure to certain media. Fictional depictions are always reduced to just that. We always take them as harmless. It does not matter what is in a drama or a movie or a documentary if the put a disclaimer before it all and claim it to be completely fictional. That is not however the psychological effect of it. According to cultivation theory, the very messages being presented in a media affects our minds directly and carve our social reality.

The visuals of any sort of fictional story which present to us characters in a world living similar to ours do not strain away from our heads. In fact, our brain absorbs them like a sponge and when in real life, experiencing a similar situation we might have influence from the media we were exposed to earlier. This is particular damaging because it means we might end up making bad life choices as a result of the media we consumed.

Moreover, the promotion of certain harmful tropes or stereotypes in media might cause us to apply them in real life too. We might put standards for ourselves that are unattainable just because of media. One prominent example is the extremely unhealthy beauty standards that have been placed by the media on men and women alike. We want such beauty in our partners and ourselves.

It is unrealistic to assume that the people we watch on televisions that operate under thousands of TV lights and camera angles, that they are perfect. They have perfectly shiny skin surfaces and bodies. Media hardly ever provides a female lead that is not completely thin or a male lead that is not too tall. People assume that in order to be of any significance at all, they too should be of certain sizes and have certain features. This also results in people bullying someone who differs from the norms and force them to make changes to their physical appearance that they otherwise would not be making.

All in all, it has become essential more than ever to both make better entertainment that promotes healthy messages and affects people’s minds in a positive and constructive way as well as people taking the responsibility to view content wisely and try to make their worldview by using their own intelligence and educating themselves rather than by the television shows they watch.

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Category: Social

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