DON’T WANNA BE AN AMERICAN IDIOT! ONE NATION CONTROLLED BY THE MEDIA!
Yeah, I think we can all agree that, if there is one group of people on this earth who are media literate, they are Green Day.
You may note that this is the only time I will ever be referencing Green Day ever. Nothing against them, I just don’t know enough about that band to ever refer accurately again. And also, they’re not very appropriate. And they kind of creep me out, too. So…I’m gonna avoid them at all costs.
So, uh, yeah, media literacy. What exactly is that?
Well, it’s basically the fancy-shmancy, scholarly, textbook term for understanding that not everything you hear is true, especially on the internet, in the news, in magazines, on Twitter, etc.
I am currently taking a class right now that focuses on teaching media literacy. The goal of the course is to get you to understand that you can’t just accept information from one source. You have to take in all aspects, view points, opinions, and so on before trying to decide where you stand on something. You should never just accept information because someone with “higher authority” told it to you. You should always question and try to think about things for yourself.
Of course, this is just a theory, and, like with all theories, it’s easier said than done. After all, we humans just love to stick our two cents into the jukebox of life, trying to find some personal jam we can groove to. We simply must include how we feel about a certain topic all the while insisting that our opinion is the correct one–correction, the only correct one.
You can’t even try to deny the above statement. I think we can all agree that the only thing we love more than talking about ourselves (more specifically our feelings) is being right. And don’t even try to go all devil’s advocate up in here, acting like you enjoy being wrong, because you would be a lying sack of dog poo if you did.
Just thought I’d take care of the haters early.
Anyways, as a part of this media course, I was asked to give up all forms of media for 24 hours in order to test my media dependency (and therefore my media literacy). And by all forms of media, I mean all forms–books, newspapers, magazines, the internet, social networks, radio, music, television, photography, advertisements, yada, yada, yada. The list goes on and on and on. All media meant all media.
Seems hard, right? You are absolutely correct.
I couldn’t do it. It was physically impossible for me to give up all forms of media. While I didn’t open any print materials or social networking apps or listen to music or even so much as glance at Google, I couldn’t avoid glimpsing a billboard or hearing a television somewhere off in the distance. By the end of the day, my sister had even started telling me about various events that happened while I was in media lock-down. I mean, come on! She was like a walking newscast, which was against the rules of the project.
So I would have to avoid people, too??
I would have literally had to lock myself away at the local loony bin to physically avoid all forms of media. It was impossible.
And that impossibility started making me a little angry. Shouldn’t we be able to choose when we want to be exposed to media? Why has it become an impossibility to escape “being in the know?” If we want to keep to ourselves and not have information shoved through our eye sockets and up our ear canals, then shouldn’t we be able to do so? When did media become so prevalent that we cannot escape it unless we literally crawl under rocks?
And that’s what made “American Idiot” pop in my head.
I never really got the true message of the song until the day I did my media literacy/dependency experiment. I always thought I was a smart American as per definition of the song and that I was that way solely because I didn’t live off of the tabloids or the evening news or the social media gossip. I was able to tell what was real in the media, and I never accepted anything for what it was reported to be. Therefore, I couldn’t have been an American idiot.
But now I realize that I was and still am and will always be, and that’s because of the American society in which I live.
We’ve all heard the statistic that American citizens are advertised to 2,000-some times a day. But do any of us even realize that we are being advertised to that much? Yes, maybe with TV and radio commercials, but even the ads in apps and the billboards we drive by and the coupons in magazines are all advertisements. Yet we hardly pay attention to them, and sometimes we don’t even recognize they’re there.
And that’s not even considering the music you hear in the distance right now or that was playing softly in the background at that fancy restaurant you went to on your last date. That’s media, too. We’re just so used to it that it’s almost as if it’s natural, as if it’s always been there.
This really makes you think about the ways we live our lives, doesn’t it? How have we fallen victim to involuntary media consumption, and how has it happened so quickly and gone so unnoticed? Part of me wants to say that that’s just the way the world is today so I should go back to not noticing how prevalent media are, but the other part of me says that it’s a problem that needs to be brought forth. That part of me keeps screaming out, trying to say that we’re becoming too homogeneous, too controlled, too docile. It’s almost like 1984 has happened. We really are just puppets of society right now, and the majority of us don’t even realize it.
Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with media; they keep us informed up to the minute and help us keep in touch with one another, which is always great. But, like I said before, we are all becoming a little too homogeneous, docile, and out of touch (ironically) from it. We’re starting to become the same people around the world because we’re consuming gulps of the same mass media that’s produced by the same six or seven major corporations that own everything. So doesn’t it seem like we should be a bit more conscientious about the ideas we are consuming over a couple thousand times a day?
We don’t need to eliminate media from our lives. Coming from a wannabe writer/soon-to-be journalist with an amateur blog, that is the furthest thing from the solution to our media predicament. However, we all need to start thinking about the bigger picture here. How is this gigantic mass media trend affecting the way we are as Americans? How is it (and I don’t mean to go all Karl Marx here, but, for lack of a better word) oppressing us and keeping us from achieving the lifestyles we want to see prevail in our country? Are the big corporations tainting our beliefs by controlling the majority of the media? Should we be worried about society getting to the point where extensive media interference is all that has ever been known?
While I cannot offer any specific answers to any of the above questions (for they are too opinion-specific), I can offer one piece of advice that I have just shown in the previous paragraph: Question! Never accept what you’re told as the truth. Be a watchdog for yourself, for, in reality, you’re the only one who can truly protect your own opinions in the end (no matter how much media interfere). Granted, don’t question the police officer who pulled you over for going 70 in a 50 zone even if you don’t agree with it (unless you have the sudden urge to get arrested). What I’m trying to say is don’t just sit back and accept the first report you hear of the next big hate crime, celebrity scandal, or world conflict. Don’t accept anyone’s answers before you first think about it yourself. I mean, it’s our right as Americans to have our own opinions, so why not take advantage of it? Why just accept the hearsay when it could very well be wrong? Why not do your own research, as brief as it may be?
I mean, the courts don’t rely on hearsay, and that’s because it’s simply unreliable. They do further research, for further research is always needed to show the truth. So if our highest institutions aren’t doing this, why are we? Just think of everything we’re missing!
And if for no other reason, do it because (and I’m pulling out the Green Day card again) idiots are the only ones who never ask questions. And no one likes to be the idiot.
Nerds are better than imbeciles any day.