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Media Creates Reality

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

By Ashly McNally

Graphic Via. Ashly McNally.

When I entered high school, one of my favorite classes was Digital Video Production. And since my alma mater was an all-magnet school -- a public school offering programs not available elsewhere -- we took these classes for essentially our entire high school career. The essential question my teacher asked us throughout the course was, “Does television and film [the media] portray or create our reality?”

During high school, I never answered this. I had good arguments for both sides and never chose a stance. Granted, there was and is no right answer, but I never chose one because I’m indecisive, not because of my ability to see both sides of the argument. Now, being out of school and stuck at home, I believe the media we consume -- and how much of it we consume -- creates our reality.

Point No. 1: Everything is perspective. When a news station or paper picks up a story and starts writing about it, the reporters have to choose an angle to cover it from. Even a summary of events is still an angle of the story. Then, there’s a possibility of bias -- be it on purpose or unconsciously -- with how the reporters cover it and who owns the station.

After that, how many people will read the entire article or watch the whole video? About 80% will read the headline, but only 20% will actually read/watch the content. And nowadays, there is also a large amount of clickbait and misinformation that can have widespread effects.

Point No. 2: Since this era of social distancing started, people have been consuming more content, especially from sites such as Netflix and YouTube. The only ways we can really connect right now is through talking about the latest show on Netflix via texting or video chatting. We’re either watching YouTube videos on our computer, a funny TikTok on our phone, or a show on our TV. And because we live in this digital age, the only way to be connected is to always be connected.

The media we consume deeply affects us, to the point where we feel it subconsciously. Every word used in an article, or the shapes and colors of the graphics, affect our perception of what we’re absorbing. Here’s an example:

Image via Pinterest.

Image via Pinterest.

Take a look at both photos. Which one are you most likely to find appealing? The one with the bright, happy colors? Or the one with human-like characters and large eyes in black and white?

This ideal can be placed into different scenarios too. If you’re feeling sad, listening to sad music can and will most likely just make it worse. If you listen to something sad, such Mac Miller’s album Swimming (2018), you’re likely going to feel those emotions and start to embody them (whether you want to or not).

We need to watch how much media we consume, and where we’re getting our information from, to avoid an overwhelming amount of external stimuli that can negatively affect us. Perhaps the best practice of self-care we can do in quarantine is to just find some quiet space to create -- like writing this article! -- or just to exist, and listen to how loud the quiet can be.

Written by writer Ashly McNally

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