Oh, mass media! The ever-evolving titan of information that has slithered its way into every nook and cranny of our existence. It's no secret that the mass media has become an integral part of our daily lives. It has the power to shape narratives, influence public opinion, propel social movements, and even alter the course of history. We can be thankful for the role it's played in highlighting pressing issues worldwide, from climate change to societal injustice. However, there’s also a sourest, rancid cherry topping to the sweet blueberry pie of the media – and I'm not particularly thrilled about it.
Ever heard of fake news? I'm sure you have, I'm sure. Thanks to the wild spread of misinformation by certain media outlets, you may have been left scratching your head, wondering if avocados are now a breed of deep-sea squid! Amidst the rapid fire of news updates, political propaganda and poorly researched articles, the truth often gets lost in translation. What's disconcerting is that this isn't simply an oversight but a deeply entrenched practice that perpetuates misleading narratives.
How about those headlines reading, "Drinking coffee could help you live longer"? Well, let me break it down for you. These are classic instances of correlation being confused with causation. While it's true that studies might find coffee drinkers live longer, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the coffee doing the magic. It could just be that longevity is influenced by factors that these coffee gurus also exhibit, such as better diet or a more active lifestyle. So, folks, don't go chugging gallons of coffee assuming you've found the elixir for eternal life.
We live in an era of "breaking news." Every bit of news, however trivial, has to be sensational, dramatic, and enticing, kind of like my neighbor's cat when it spots a stray piece of string. The media often prioritizes eyeballs over truth and credibility. For instance, instead of sober, data-powered discussions about climate change, we are often served fear-inducing headlines painted in hues of disaster and apocalypse. Remember the "Murder hornets taking over America!" frenzy? Yeah, me too.
I recollect a personal incident when a local news coverage hyped up a minor brawl at a local football match as a "violent, anarchic outbreak." It reminded me of my five-year-old nephew throwing a tantrum because he lost at a game of Battleship – sure it’s a spectacle, but it’s hardly the Bruces-Banner-going-Green event it’s made out to be.
Now, let's chat about social media. A platform that was once primarily for sharing cat videos and food pictures, has now metamorphosed into a magma of instant news, opinions, and controversies. Believe it or not, social media has become the chief source of news for many, blurring the lines between professional journalism and casual voyeurism. Imagine a world where your newspaper was written by your aunt Becky. Now, Becky may be a whizz at crossword puzzles, but I'm not quite sure I can trust her updates on national economics or nuclear physics. But social media gives anyone and everyone the power to broadcast ‘news’ and views, accurate or otherwise.
As a blogger, I have encountered numerous instances of misinformation and half-baked news narratives spreading like wild fire on social media. Remember when the internet fervently claimed that swallowing garlic would prevent COVID-19? It could repel vampires, maybe, but sorry pals, the SARS-CoV-2 virus isn't deterred by your garlicky breath.
Let's tackle another pet-peeve of mine: Clickbait and listicles. Yes, I'm looking at you, Buzzfeed. "Top 10 reasons why you are still single!" or "You won't believe what this celebrity ate for breakfast!" - Classics, eh? While these catchy headlines might satisfy our curiosity and ensure we can avoid awkward small talk at parties, their proliferation contributes to the erosion of comprehensive, long-form journalism.
Remember flipping through a good old newspaper, absorbed in an in-depth analysis of a world event? Yeah, these days, we are often scrolling past 30-picture slideshows of celebrity homes. We've traded the delectable main course of traditional journalism for fast food style, bite-sized morsels of entertainment. It's like swapping a home-cooked meal for a packet of instant ramen. While the ramen saves you time and hits the spot, it misses out on the nutrition and the soulfulness of home-cooked food.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't a rant against mass media in its entirety – just against its imperfections and troves that they throw our way. I'm just your average Joe, urging you to put on your thinking cap, question what you hear, see, or read, and savor the pie of media with a pinch of skepticism and a spoonful of discernment!