How media contents threaten your smarts and self-identity

Avoid consuming media contents passively. Be engaged, sift, research and verify what you read and listen to. In order to learn and improve yourself, never be a zombie in the process.

In an age where media is in your fingertips, use it to improve and broadcast yourself. It is survival of the emotionally intelligent and self-aware. Media literacy. Identity.

As you read this article, there’s a media production being produced that serves to sell a ‘sexy’ – and therefore, desirable – body; a production that has women prancing around naked to push products off the shelves. A nose tweaked, cheek bones re-arranged; where make-up and lighting fails, a torso tanned using computer software. Images get sold, perceptions get shifted.

While the standard of perfection get set, the very messages which ought to inspire their audience become troublesome to those who consume them. Young girls aim to be desirable according to the media they consume. Many don’t know some of those pictures they see are grossly manipulated, media literacy is a privilege held by a few. So, many gobble up all media contents as being the gospel truth, as how they need to think and behave. A large number of folks cannot decipher the contents they consume. A state of affairs my Modern Culture lecturer at the college I attended describes as people being zombies to what they see, hear and read. Totally passive. It leaves us with a problem gnawing at many a person’s ability to think independently.

It’s difficult for a teenage girl to love herself entirely when media contents insinuate she isn’t beautiful enough. Murmurs such as, ‘be like this, babe’, ‘have your hair like this’, make it hard to find and be content with who and how she is. I’m aware the media outlets are business entities which work toward sustainability, profitability, and generate returns for shareholders, et cetera.

The media is a powerful tool, as demonstrated by some governments and the elite in their attempts to censor it at times. Reportedly, this happened recently in Turkey where some government officials shut down YouTube in their country; there were compromising details extracted from an allegedly high-security meeting involving Turkey’s intelligence chief, foreign minister and the deputy head of the armed forces. It was strongly believed those clips published to the video-sharing site would expose corruption.

With it being a powerful tool, I’d rather you use the media – and of late, digital media – to facilitate your growth. About its power, just ask the Egyptians about Wael Gonhim, a computer engineer and an MBA graduate who works for Google. After police brutally tortured and killed a young man named Khaled Said, he created a Facebook page with the title, We are all Khaled Said. He anonymously organised pro-democracy demonstrations which proved crucial in exerting pressure to dethrone Hosni Mubarak – after an intense 18 days of demonstrations amid the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. He has since published a book titled Revolution 2.0: The power of
people is stronger than the people in power
hhml. To rise above the noise and find your identity (with which you are comfortable), be curious, read, research and question the order and state of things in the world. For your mind’s power and capacity, never settle for what you’re served – go beyond.

Curiosity goes a long way in one’s improvement. I recently tweeted: “Some brilliant rappers often reference interesting figures in the world and its history. Sift, learn a lot from the various media contents”. A few minutes later, I tweeted another thought: “Kanye West speaks of Christopher Columbus in his verse in the ‘Swagger like us’ remix. U research him and U learn something. Sift and learn”. The point? Be engaged when you interact with whatever entertainment that amuses you. Whether it is music, writing, watching movies and whatever else. Be active, have a roving eye for information, it is everywhere. Expand your mind.

In an age where the media is in your fingertips, exploit it to improve and broadcast yourself – and do so authentically. We are living in the information age, which is exciting, though superfluous at times. But don’t let the noise override your identity; design it yourself. It is the survival of the emotionally intelligent and self-aware.

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THEMBA JAY,

Communicate Your Genius