“ I was sitting on a green padded stool watching the news on the TV. When the news was over the barkeep turned off the TV, so then I stared at the sign over the bar: “The Green Padded Stools Make Philosophers Of Us All”.
Then my buddy, Tom, walked into the bar.
“Hey Tom, come over here and sit yourself on this blue padded stool.”
Tom was partially color blind, he saw green as blue.
“Hello Dave, what’s up?”
“Take a look down the bar, there are four people reading different forms of the Mass Media. One is staring at their smart phone, one on a laptop, one reading a newspaper and one engrossed in a book, and a minute ago I was watching the news on TV.”
“Is that so unusual, Dave?”
“The point I’m making is that what you see is the Giant at work. It’s the Giant that controls us—The Mass Media.”
“Controls us?’ said Tom, quizzically.
“Yes my friend, we are being saturated by the Media. The opinions we hold are formed by the Media. Our very identity is influenced by them, what we read, hear and see influences how we see ourselves and how others see us. They know the info they serve up to us forms our opinions. We wouldn’t have an opinion without their info.”
“Do you find this threatening?” said Tom, scrolling his smart phone.
“Yes, especially the “new” media, the digital screen electronic devices. They undermine human relationships which leads to social isolation, with people losing the ability to communicate in the REAL world because, like you a moment ago, they are wrapped up in a solitary electronic device.”
Tom, looking guilty, turned his smart phone off and put it in his pocket.
“Sorry Dave, I got lost surfing the net.”
“That’s alright, the news is sobering. Shall we have a non-alcoholic cocktail?”
The barkeep mixed us a couple of tasty cocktails.
“Any other threats by the Mass Media?”
“Yes, the transnational news corporations, like Murdock, control newspapers and TV satellite broadcasting. Microsoft and Google control internet technology. All this enhances the power of the powerful. In other words, it’s a threat to democracy.”
“Some other controls please,” said Tom, sipping his cocktail with the paper umbrella in it.
“Well like I said, it forms our opinions and also it exercises social control.”
“Yes Tom, the Mass Media is the ordinary persons only source of evidence and they color, shape and construct our views of the world. They tell us what is right and wrong according to their agendas. They influence and control our lives to a great extent. They also tend to report and stress certain things in a more favorable way than others.”
“Can you put some detail on this social control?”
“The media does “agenda setting”, they tell us what to think about.
Then there is “gate-keeping”, where the media refuses to cover some issues, they tell us what they want to tell us.
Also there is, “norm-setting”, where it emphasizes conforming to social norms and discourages non-conformist behaviors.
“All this is very interesting BUT what effect does Mass Media have on the audience? Do they treat us like thinking humans or mindless robots?” said Tom, soberly.
“Well, the mindless robot approach is called the hypodermic syringe theory. They inject messages into the audience hoping for immediate effects. They take us as unthinking easily manipulated robots, who are unable to resist the injected content. This approach is not supported by many.”
“We tend, at least I do, to listen to opinion leaders such as teachers and people in the know. They pass on their views that they have picked up through the media.
This means we are passive and easily led,” said Tom, with a questioning look on his face.
“You hit the nail on the head, Tom, this is called the two-step flow theory. There are other approaches which see the audience as thinking and critical humans. They use the media to inform them about their interests.”
“I’m very selective in my approach to the media,” said Tom, seriously.
“Most people are selective, some people only read or watch media output that they agree with, input which fits in with their views and interests.”
“What’s the future, Dave?”
“Well, the world is becoming a global village. There is a lot of instant info and entertainment coming into us. The whole world is now exposed to the same info through mass media which cuts across national boundaries.
The Giant is becoming even bigger!”
We finished our cocktails.
“Tom, I will leave you with this tidbit:
We are bombarded with so much news and much of it is GRIM. So we can’t decide whether to watch the six o’clock news and not be able to eat, OR the ten o’clock news and not be able to sleep.”
With that, Tom and I got off of our green/blue stools and walked out into the fresh air.
Also published on Medium.