MANTHAN – 23Aug
Every day, every moment our senses are being bombarded with information of various kinds leaving an impact on our thoughts, decision making and lifestyle. We gather information and form impressions from various sources like newspapers, ads, movies, books, internet.
Media has the power to manipulate an entire society’s thought process and induce the desired emotion. Taking the sources mentioned above, a few examples in that direction…
- With the onset of Coronavirus, a huge wave of fear was created and the entire society reacted in a certain way. With few months passing, the realities around us have made us realize that Yes, there’s a virus lurking around and we need to take precautions but it is curable and the fear was needless. A very clear example of how news is consumed by society and the impact it creates.
- Huge amounts are spent on advertisements by companies that study the psychology of children or a certain section of the society and create content that touches the psyche of their target group. These ads themselves drive home certain messages on beauty, working women, relationships, a child prodigy. They promote consumerism, have the power to convert want to a need, and change the buying patterns in society.
- Movies too have a similar impact as ads mentioned above. They have the ability to drive cultural changes in society. To quote an example, the moral fiber that was projected in the man-woman relationship in the Indian movies of yesteryears and that of today has a world of difference. The movies that projected a woman losing her chastity as immoral and unacceptable, today has wiped out this notion of chastity and sees sex before marriage as acceptable behavior. While here the debate is not on what is right or wrong but how movies can influence the cultural beliefs of societies.
Books and curriculum in schools indicate the superiority of English over other languages, manipulated History to establish control and supremacy, stories to drive agendas of certain groups, all these have left a child uprooted from its roots and oblivious of facts.
Internet is another pandora’s box. Information explosion at its peak, privacy breached in the name of intelligence.
There was a time when the neighborhood came together in the evenings, the ladies gossiped, shared recipes, laughed and cried at their own stories; children played, fought, sorted it out and continued playing again. TV and today the entry of smartphones into our lives have caused a dent in relationships and interactions with people around. People are getting to be more comfortable being with themselves and media seems to be the means of escapism from reality. As we sit there pressing the remote, changing channels what we don’t realise is that we have handed over the remote of our thoughts to someone else. We are getting swayed away by emotions and thoughts that is driven by someone’s motives to achieve their desired results. This has left an impact on our lifestyle, language, food, clothes and culture. Unfortunately, media has moved away from it core purpose of presenting facts to more of creating biased opinions. Politics and Money play a major role in media which is quite dangerous to any society. Now, this is the current reality. We cannot close our eyes to it. Of course, there is a whole lot of useful information and data out there, there are benefits but there are glaring negative impacts which we cannot choose to ignore. What then can we do in our sphere of influence…
- One of the primary needs is, for each one of us to awake to the fact that everything out there is not true. Be aware of the manipulative nature of media and changing narratives.
- Our habit of consuming data as is should change. Question before accepting. Take the effort to go a step ahead and get into the details.
- Be aware of the source of data, authenticity of the speaker or writer is to be checked before accepting.
- Think rationally and use your discretion before coming to conclusions. The responsibility to get to the truth is yours. Question existing dogmas and assumptions
- Build emotional resilience to the impressions around and be firm on the ground you are rooted
- Learn to differentiate between facts and opinions.
- Let’s move away from imitation to inspiration.
- We are the best judge for ourselves. Regulating our media usage is a matter of self-discipline
- Let us not be the chain of sharing false information. When we press that forward or share button, we need to be aware that we are authenticating that content. If we are not sure, then either we discard that information for ourselves or get to the truth behind it.
- Invest in real life experiences
Children who are much more receptive are an easy prey to media and its influences. The adults in the environment play a larger role in the media usage of children. While for small children, keeping them away from media is an option as they grow up it is not possible to keep them away from the impressions they would be receiving from all around. Images and information around are consumed passively but leaves a long-lasting impression. What then can we do?
- An open channel of communication with children is very important as parents and teachers.
Talking to them continuously, relevant discussions, questioning their thought process, bringing them to an aware space, leading them to a path of seeking the right answer is what we can do
- Being attentive to their questions, their talks, their way of approaching matters is needed to understand them and help have a conversation
- Our family culture will have an impact on how the children receive and process the information that they receive from out
- Let’s provide the space and opportunity for children to create their own stories, images and views.