Is The Media A Force For Good?

“Four legs good, two legs bad.” – George Orwell

Is the media good news? What would it be like to live in a world without media? Very different…

Firstly, our ways of communication and news would be different. If news was to be spread by word of mouth we would be hopeless – we would have no awareness of what is going on in the world. For example, how could we hear about the terrors of the Syrian conflict? How would we know that other countries aren’t planning war? We wouldn’t without media.

In one sense, however, the media is bad: it instils a sense of fear in people. It entangles us into a web of dread which often isn’t necessary. Partially because of the media, people now see all Muslims as ‘terrorists’. In fact this is completely false and the huge majority of people from all backgrounds would not want harm to another human being or living thing. See “The Toxoplasma of Rage”, an argument looking at the volatility of the media, which looks at how it causes anger and rage.

And on to my second point – like news media, social media has its many ups and downs. Many would argue Facebook and other social media is a big advantage to many lives: it allows people to connect and form relationships with each other. In fact, without social media, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. However, others would argue social media has more problems than its worth. As of a recent study, 80% of teenagers are on Facebook (not including me), and 55% of these people are bullied or harassed through this system. Cyber-bulling is a major problem, but it could be prevented without social media.

Problems with social media go far beyond cyber-bullying. Shaming is a large problem as large numbers of people may go against a belief or view someone has. In the long-term this could lead to sadness, anxiety, depression or suicide.

One major case of shaming is Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky spoke to her friend about having an affair with Bill Clinton, and their telephone messages were recorded. As a result of this she was questioned about Clinton’s relationship with Paula Jones. If she did not co-operate she would be jailed. Lewinsky still finds herself shunned to this day. Other related cases are the shaming of Scott Aaronson and Justine Sacco.

Thirdly, in much of Western society we are not exposed to different views which is beneficial for a growth mindset. It is healthy to debate and discuss different, new ideas. In general, in the UK and the US the media and journalists follow left wing parties: they have a Liberal/left-wing bias. This creates an echo-chamber where there are no new ideas, but a balance is important.

To conclude, there are both good and bad elements of the media, and benefits which favour both sides.

I would also like to thank Daniel for his input of ideas.