Media is one of the strongest pillars of the foundation of a society, culture, and economy. The use of media in its many forms has its advantages because it makes it easier to be well-informed about the most recent events by pushing a button on the TV remote, or turning on your phone or computer and switching on the news channel.
People also go on social media and check accounts and pages that post the most recent news and updates. As easier day to day life has become for post war Americans and people in general around the globe, the unfortunate truth is that media has been used to divide our country in a plethora of disturbing ways.
Our apparent reliance on the belief of many that it is telling the truth or the ever increasing voices who insist it is completely lying to the populous has created not only how we view modern media, but the cavernous division it has created in our society.
Racism Has Widely Spread Through Media
Racism has arguably been deep-rooted in the American mindset from the nation’s birth as many white people believe that the country is theirs and only theirs. The media became a way for people to boldly voice their opinions without reprisals as they could hide behind a screen, therefore, the hate and vitriol against people of color started coming through the media.
The advent of social media has also given a way for many racists to show their unfiltered hatred on different platforms without consequences, such as Twitter and Facebook. The large tech companies are doing little to nothing about it as it generates viewers and therefore more opportunities to make money from advertisements.
The Need to Have it All
Whether we’re talking about celebrities or influencers created through media, the need to have it all, i.e., needing to achieve everything one sees in the media, drove America towards a divide. A sort of modern version of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. The pre-media generation always brings up how the media had brought a huge change to the world, and not a good one.
Sadly, there is more truth in their statement that the current generation is willing to accept. Constantly looking at the lavish lives of the rich and famous has impacted the rest of the country in ways that are not always positive. For example, people believe that if one does not have certain things by a specific age, they have somehow failed at life.
It is almost like it is a race, and Americans are running without taking a breath to get somewhere all the time.
Politics in the Media
We are most certainly famous for our political drama because the media can be biased towards certain political parties or agendas. Often, one side is portrayed in a negative light which leads to a bad reputation among the nation. As the media takes sides, it leads to people also choosing sides, causing arguments and the potential for violence.
For example, many people have received hate for supporting Donald Trump due to his controversial statements and beliefs. In 2016, before Trump was elected, there was a lot of unrest in America. Some media outlets on the left, like CNN and MSNBC, portrayed Trump in an entirely negative light, while others on the right, like FOX and One America News Network, had nothing but positive things to say about the sitting President.
The Spread of News Like WildFire
We all know how fast news travels through the media in today’s face-paced world. However, the spread of news does not always indicate correct information, more often than you could imagine. Fake or false news spreads faster and comes with a destructive impact on society as a whole.
A study carried out by Vosoughi et al. Seemed to prove that false news spreads faster while the truth takes time and reaches fewer people. The results say a lot about how the spread of today’s news and how it can cause a divide between those who just accept it as truth and those who choose to look a bit deeper.
Truth and lies can cause division among any nation be it America or any other country because many media outlets are either negligent or deliberate, in ensuring whether a piece of news is true or false, all in service of being the first to break the news. That increases the chance of incorrect news reaching the masses and causing an uproar and disagreement leading to disunity.
Biased towards Certain Groups
There continues to be a distinct lack of representation of minorities in the media in many parts of the country, often based on race, religion, gender or sexuality. It has long been argued that a straight white male is the ultimate definition of privilege, and that causes division between them and the less privileged people, with that conflict usually being played out on our news networks for views.
The most common historical example of this lack of representation is women unable to practice their basic rights such as freedom of speech, choice, and whatnot. Now, sometimes the media recognizes this injustice, and the female population of the country receives better representation in the media, i.e., their struggle is talked about, but most of the time it goes unnoticed. That leads to many claiming that the media is almost exclusively white male dominated.
Similarly, Asians and Muslims in American receive a lot of hate, and most of the time the media chooses to ignore the atrocities faced by these people. A lack of representation leads to voices feeling like they are not being heard so find other less democratic ways to do so.
The media has a long history of stereotyping some people. For example, a black man is a criminal, a Muslim is a terrorist, a woman is beneath the man, and so on.
The media is, to a large extent, responsible for how religious groups, minorities, or any kind of people are perceived by their viewers based on how that group is presented. If there is constant loathing spread about particular people, the masses will start to see how the media portrays them, thus causing a divide.
There is no doubt that the media has brought a significant change in American culture. Previously, the values and morals in American society were different, but since the media has become more popular things have started to change. In today’s world, people have a platform to speak out when they see perceived wrongs in society which has divided the nation.
For example, the topic of women’s rights is hugely discussed in the media, and the discussion has led to a significant change. However, not everyone has received that change with positivity which has led to differences of opinions and division in the country.
In the earlier times, the content aired on public media was hugely censored that led to quality content reaching the masses however, that is no longer the case as all types of content are readily available for people to access. Due to this reason, people have often voiced their concern regarding how unsafe the media has become for children.
Many times Americans have raised their voice to block certain content to protect the integrity and the future of their next generation causing division among the people as not everyone agrees to censor content, so arguments arise, often on public media outlets.
What Can Americans Do About The Negative Impact of Media?
The most important thing about change is to first bring a change within yourself. If people do not change themselves, what they preach is less likely to have an impact. You may have noticed that often a famous personality’s words and actions have a huge impact on the world at large, but another person making the same effort cannot reach that same audience.
The reason for this is a lack of belief in one’s own beliefs. If one does not believe in what they preach, they cannot bring a change through their words. Before criticizing someone else, it is important to change your mindset and walk a mile in their shoes to bring a much larger change.
There are many ways the media is dividing America. Some of the most common ways have been stated above in this article because they have the biggest impact. However, the ones with lower impact are also significant, not on the same level, but significant. No nation has succeeded with division among the people even if it seems that they are doing great.
The downfall is bound to come someday and it will destroy millions of lives which is why we must bring a change starting from ourselves. The media industry has its disadvantages, however, if the Americans are determined to bring a change they can use the media in their favor.