The mass media has an impacting and lasting effect on everyone who is put in front of it from the day they are born until the day that they die. It is often an argument made by several that they are not influenced by the media, the shows they watch or the social media they are a part of. I, myself have been one to express this countless times, that I am not at all impacted by the mass media. Unfortunately, that was only a lie told to feel like I was stronger than everyone else, that I could outlast the effects of media consumption, yet it is everywhere I look; from the way I dress, to the way I think, to the food I eat and so on. The effects of media socialization did not occur over night, it was through growing up and varying aspects of media being placed in front of me that it has had the lasting impact that it does.
The role the media plays tends to affect how I think in a very negative way. In a lot of ways it makes decisions for me like what I want to look like or if I can be as attractive as a celebrity or model. These things cross my mind every day when I look in the mirror and there is no doubt why. Over the years it is imbedded into your mind that if you do not look a certain way then you are less attractive than those on television, but what they don’t tell you that the people seen in the media are often airbrushed to look like the flawless depictions of beauty we see.
My peers are a major influence of my media consumption just by the discussions that are held in reference to certain shows, and if I were to miss an event on live television or didn’t see a news feed on twitter, I would be exempt from any conversations held about that part of media. Between school and work it is difficult to be as up to date as I would like regarding the events that are shown or the news that is broadcasted, however the traditions upheld by my parents allow me to continue being involved in the media I would otherwise miss out on. For example, every morning I wake up to the Today Show on television, and I am able to get ready while watching it. This has been formed over the years and become almost a tradition, something I can count on every day and it allows us to spend time together while we all get ready for work and school. I am also influenced by what I can relate to, it will influence whether or not I read a news story or watch it on television. As a waitress in a chain restaurant, it is not uncommon to be directly affected by the amount of money people spend when they go out to eat and how much they are willing to tip, whether it be ten percent or twenty. So one day when reading the news on aol.com I saw an article about a preacher who refused to pay the gratuity in a restaurant. I immediately tuned in because I can directly relate to the story.
Media consumption affects what I expect from other people based on what I see in facebook or on a television show. I partially expect some form of drama to be started every time I log on to a social media, it is a given that people will be complaining about something and without that you almost feel let down. Your expectations were not met and so you feel incomplete without some form of drama in your life.
As I have gotten older my patterns of media consumption depends on my mood, what my peers suggest I watch and some form of compromise. If I am already feeling sad or happy or excited or whatever the case may be, I will want to watch something that will support that mood. Perhaps I would choose to watch a comedy over a drama if I am in a reasonably good mood. However sometimes, the form of media I consume would depend on someone I am spending time with because perhaps I chose the last five movies we watched and now I feel like they should choose one time. Occasionally, I am influenced by word of mouth, if I hear people talking about something and I want to be informed I will look it up. For example, I heard several people discussing what is currently taking place in Syria, and due to my heavy work schedule I was uninformed. In response I went home and researched it so I could become included. These patterns developed over time as I was conditioned by my parents and teachers about what is and is not acceptable media to consume. It has additionally been affected by what I have seen other people viewing, like my mother’s enjoyment of soap operas. Those shows would have possibly been overlooked if I had not seen her watching them on a daily basis throughout growing up. And of course my perception and interest in media continues to evolve as I do through growing up. As I get older my taste for different aspects of the media changes and I notice the hypocrisy of the media more and more. The messages it releases is to be yourself but be perfect, and as I get older I realize this is impossible and the media begins to have less of an affect on me.
I am directly influenced by my media consumption every day through the clothing I wear, how I schedule my time, what I spend my money on and my values and actions. However it doesn’t influence me as strongly as it did when I was younger because when I was younger I wanted everything to be like the movies, but as I grow up I recognize that this is not possible. The media I am exposed to makes me cautious more than anything because of the danger I see in crime shows and even on the news. It makes me wary of going out alone after the sun has gone down or walking down an alley by myself. These fears are formed from watching negative things happen to others on television, and so we try to avoid any uncertainties.
Media is constantly interacting with other forms of socialization, like the altercations we are able to have with complete strangers over things like politics and religion. It is what makes it easy for a stranger to come up to someone’s door just to preach about religion to them, or to protest at a soldier’s funeral. Our lives are directly influenced by what we see and hear in the media, it is what enables us to think we are spending our hard earned money on something that is clearly out of our price range just so we can fit into the overwhelming stereotype that we will be better than another individual because we own something that was seen on television. It is what makes us sensitive to certain media types like violence because we are surrounded by it every day. We choose media based on what those around us think, so ultimately all of our actions and thoughts are just a mimicry of a script written by someone we have never met.