Role of Media in Changing Our Culture and Society
There is an old saying”Man is a social animal”, which means beyond other requirements such as food and shelter, man has another fundamental need and that is, need of communication with each other. The urge of communication is a basic one and in our contemporary civilization, it has become a necessity for survival. In order to facilitate communication, man has established several means which have developed from time to time such as sending messages, letters, telephone and telegraph and these all assist in providing connection between people even with those who are at far distant places.
In the present era, the means of communication have evolved into a very advance phase and are now collectively called “Mass Media”. So How Do We Define Media? Media is actually an art of transmitting information, ideas and attitudes from one point or person to another. When an individual communicates to the other, this may be through use of gestures like passing on smiles when happy or in a good mood, frowns when showing a displeased expression, or selection of our words or tone while speaking depending on the feelings within us.
In either case we want to select the most effective ways to communicate exactly what we intend. However, communication among a large number of people or society is not as simple as with individuals, but it’s far too complex. Information or news that is important to a mass of people may not be passed on to them from individual to individual. This must reach many people at the same time and also effectively. Such as the forecast of a storm to warn one whole city to take immediate measures cannot be passed on individual to individual since time factor is important.
This may be done through newspapers or television or both. Or if some product is to be advertised, it has to be conveyed collectively to a mass that again may be done through radio, television or newspapers. These technological means of communicating information or news collectively to a large number of people is therefore called “Mass Communication”. Impact of Media on Culture A culture comprises of the language, habits, beliefs, religion, dresses, foods etc. in a particular region and the media has a direct and significant effect on it since it is undoubtedly an influential aspect in modern day society.
As technology has become very much advanced now, media touches all types of people in various forms such as radio, televisions, newspapers etc. and the society also depends on it in order to get informed on the events taking place all over the world. Media touches every aspect of life. This includes not only the events going on around the world, but also the developments and progress, education and employment, the political situations in a country, the socio economic issues of a region, marketing of products, health and beauty, fashion and styles, violence and the issues of behaviour of youth verses older generation etc.
All these when conveyed to a society by printing, broadcasting or telecasting in the form of news or highlights or discussions do have a direct impact on a society and its culture which gains its leverage depending upon the integrity of the information conveyed. An example is the talk shows that are telecast on around all news media. Every day we watch such programs where our politicians are invited to discuss over current affairs.
Either the case is of cheating or undue spending of public funds by influential people or the use of their unauthorised powers, almost all the current affair programs end after hot discussions without reaching to a logical conclusion since the participating opponents would never let know what the truth is. This is because the opponents come fully equipped with whipping words that lashes away the possibility of revealing the truth by anyone who tries to speak out. Therefore despite of the whole matter already known in black and white, the facts reach to the public completely distorted.
As a result, no issues of common people are solved which causes heightening of anger, hatred and frustration in public which in turn increase the criminal activities since law and order and justice seem to be unavailable. The question therefore remains: whether the information conveyed is unbiased and untarnished? This then depends upon the people within society to sort through the many bits of information fed to them in order to filter out what actually the truth is. Also one can see that media may contribute to a society’s culture both positively and negatively.
On one hand there is lot of rubbish that is watched on media every day. Children watch movies which show too much violence and stuff exhibiting unethical actions, words and language. These are in general furnished with murder stories, use of drugs, smoking cigarettes, using abusive language in everyday life etc. These preach school goings and youth how to earn more without doing much and how to behave wrongly with parents and the society. Such a material only communicates new generation how to be demoralised.
To watch such movies has become a today’s tradition which is acting like slow venom that is damaging and killing the moral character of our society. On the other hand, making available appropriate educational programs on television and publishing good informative magazines for children may provide safer environments that may aid children and provide their parents tools to implement moral values that are need of the present time. Such programs should be full of general and technical knowledge so that it may inculcate a desire in the new generation to learn more.
Advertising is another aspect of media that affects society very much. This is an important social phenomenon which stimulates consumption of every day changing products, enhances economic activity and alters life styles of people. Consumers are confronted with extensive daily doses of advertising through multiple media. With the continual attack of marketing media, it is for sure that it affects our individualism and society as a whole. Sometimes it is surprising to note that how consumer’s minds can be moulded with changed opinions.
It is due to this advertising that brands have acquired more importance over usage of items these days. An example is the frequent use of hair dye among our youth who want to have change in looks since looking the same every day is boring. Also it seems that priorities of public change with the way products are displayed through ads. Earlier soft drinks were considered health hazard but now the sports superstars as models in the ads of soft drinks easily convince their viewers to consume it regularly despite being harmful to health.
Also in various ads of cigarettes, masculine characters are shown performing heroic acts which encourages and misguides our youth to develop habit of smoking since it will make them courageous and powerful. Media has also a great role in changing fashions and designs. Though this is a social activity and is acceptable however, it shall be in permissible limits of our culture. Unfortunately with the increase in exposure of western media which has blended in ours, unethical dress fashions have also intruded into our culture which is affecting the new generation and causing significant harm to the overall society.
Conclusion On the whole, we conclude that everything may have its good and bad effects depending upon how it is used. Media may play both negative and positive roles in changing a culture and society. Although media should be free and independent, however there shall be some ethics/ moral standards with proper rules and regulations which shall be followed by mass media so that it may contribute a dignified role in formation and development of a healthy society.