Media today comes in many forms, from the “old school” of books, newspapers and radio, to the “new school” of internet, magazines, movies, and television. Most of these media forms have existed for quite some time and still are constantly evolving to keep a place in mainstream media. Each of these types of media still have their power over us.
It’s long been said that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” While that saying has become cliche, it’s true. The media can wage wars with ideas. We all know how powerful ideas are. There are many great ideas that media can spread. Some of them are values that we hold dear.
What Power Does Media Have Over Our Values?
Media has a great deal of power in creating values, maintaining them, and even changing existing values altogether. As values form the core of human societies, the media is responsible for maintaining traditional values or even displacing them and replacing them with new values. Even in just the past decade, society’s values have been affected by the media. Some people would argue that mainstream media has abused its power. Perhaps, in some ways it has. But in other ways, it’s done a lot of good.
Media has helped ideas spread all over the world. With the invention of social media, these ideas spread even more quickly. There have been people who even suggest that social media will eventually displace traditional media, but that’s unlikely to happen completely. The free flow of ideas allows people even in obscure, less-developed countries to information that they couldn’t have dreamed of learning just a few years ago. That is a good thing about media.
Is the Media Good or Bad for Our Values?
One of the “bad” things about media that people often harp on about is the perpetuation of celebrity culture all over the world. Celebrity culture has always existed, but it’s certainly a far greater part of our lives today. Also, mainstream media can spin news in just about any way that it wants. News, in fact, is today more entertainment; a lot of it puts celebrity news on par with real world news.
But for all the bad things that media can do, there’s another good flip side. Hypocrites and liars are eventually exposed. That happens even more quickly with the help of social media. People can be who they are, and with free speech and free press, can say what they think and do what they feel is right.
So is the media good or bad for our world’s values? Actually, it’s both.
Has Media “Americanized” the World Too Much?
It’s true that the United States of America has long been looked at as a forerunner in the world. Whatever America does, many other cultures try to adopt. For example, fast food and blue jeans were invented in America, and are now familiar concepts world-wide. As nations develop, they take many cues from American culture and add them to their own as they enter the modern world. But is Americanization a good thing or a bad thing?
The main argument against Americanization is that traditional values are lost through it. But, that’s not necessarily the case. Culture and values change over time regardless of influences. Yes, media can play a powerful influence, but all it does is really speed up how quickly things change. No one forced anyone to adopt American ideas and values. It’s just that these things are new to many people, so they’re happy to explore them. While the effects may be negative, it’s not because of media itself; it’s people making their own choices.
Is It True that Media Reflects What Society Craves?
For all the bad things we can say about media, the biggest knock against mainstream media is how it often gives into sinful temptations such as greed and lust. But media didn’t create these cravings. They’ve always been a part of the human psyche. Is it bad that media manipulates these things to make money? Sure. But it’s not media’s fault that these are things people want.
Sure, magazines and newspapers are happy to cover scandals that probably shouldn’t be considered news. But, they make money, and many magazines and newspapers are in business to make a profit. No, they aren’t obligated to be righteous and moral, not if people are buying their work.
Should Media Have a Moral Obligation to Upholding the Values of Society?
Yes, media can make or break a lot of things, whether it be people, events, or ideas. This is both good and bad, as what’s made or broken likely should’ve been reversed in some cases. Human beings are imperfect creatures and a free media is bound to spread good with the bad. But media itself is a great thing. It’s all about what you do with it.
Should media be tied to a moral obligation to upholding the values of society? What values should be upheld? Who makes these decisions? The whole point of a free society is to lift the obligation of the media to do just that. If there are too many rules governing media, then what good is it but a propaganda machine? We’ve seen this happen too often in the past, and even America has used media in this way.
But, in the social media age, the commitment to truth and transparency in traditional media is stronger than ever. Yes, there are rules that both traditional and social media has to follow in order to prevent tragedies, such as limiting hate speech and other inflammatory messages. But no matter what rules you might make, media is so free and accessible to everyday people that no matter what, it will be used even if the rules have to be broken to do so.
Media is an incredible force of change. Some has been good, and some has been bad. But as with any human endeavor, it’s our own personal choice of how we both create it and consume it. Media is not the cause of any ills in our society; it’s simply bringing them out into the open. Just as with all the good ideas media brings us on a daily basis, that’s good, too.