Confessions of a Media & Cinema Studies Major

To be honest, I don’t understand the media. As my studies and experiences expand, I have become disgusted, inspired, terrified, frustrated and sometimes very moved by what the media can do and is currently doing. The deeper I dig into the media’s effects on my own life and the society I live in, the more alarmed I become at how my values have been shaped by images I’ve seen, stories I’ve heard, and the media I’ve consumed.

The reality is that I belong to a media-saturated generation. Even though I grew up in the progressive Pacific Northwest, I was still raised by Sesame Street, became a facebook addict, and grew up to believe that the ideal life looked like a size four pair of jeans, a handsome husband, and the words “happily ever after.” In high school I verbally hated conservative propaganda, checked Adbusters daily, swallowed the messages the anti-consumerists spoon-fed me, and contributed to a different kind of “two minutes of hate.” All of these experiences show how regardless of its political affiliation, the media molded my core beliefs without my realization.

Then I lived overseas for a while and eventually made my way to Chicago where I turned off my facebook, started living in an intentional community, and tried living out social justice with my actions instead of participating in the “slacktivism” I once prided myself in. As it turns out, it’s much harder to recognize how my daily decisions actually matter – not just in my purchases, but how I invest my time and relationships. Previously I could post a link or like a status and sleep fine at night. The more I know about this world, the harder that has become.

Overall, I believe that at this point, the media is an incredible tool that offers profound potential for connection and shared knowledge. Right now though, I believe it has become a “one-click fix” that has yet to bring about tremendous change in society (aside from the drastic plummet in self-confidence every person on the planet is experiencing). As we use media to raise awareness regarding certain issues, we must also be prepared to actually acknowledge what we ourselves can must do to alter the world we live in.

Hannah Holtgeerts