The Current Impact of Media on American Culture
Media as a channel of interpersonal and trans-regional, print and electronic communication, has significantly changed over time to such an extent that some of its forms are threatened with extinction. The notable role that media plays in communication implies that it greatly influences the people’s way of life socially, politically, and even economically. The computer and the internet as communication and media tools have seen various and massive developments and innovations, especially at the turn of the century. They, together with the technological developments and innovations in the other domains, has greatly affected mainstream mass media, print media, and electronic media as well as the people’s way of life. The development of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Wechat, LinkedIn, etc. has taken the state and the world by storm and significantly impacted the people’s culture. For instance, media, especially the social and digital one, has immensely influenced the US American culture.
Lessons from History
For as long as human language and communication has existed, the world has seen numerous innovative technologies which, in their turn, have made profound impact on people’s way of life, impact that was misunderstood in the past even by the great scholars of their time. For example, Plato saw writing as a peril and inhumane thing that was a big risk to the human mind and threatened memory with extinction. That notwithstanding, it is possible to judge the correctness of what Plato thought depending on the impact of writing. The influence of writing and reading on the way people lived and the way they live today is transcendent. Writing and record keeping immensely bolstered agriculture in the early agrarian times of Egypt and Mesopotamia. When the Chinese discovered the paper, and the Germans started using it to print press, Europe felt threatened regarding culture, morality, and social order. For this reason, the ascension of other media forms, especially electronic ones such as television, has always been received with contempt and suspicion about their negative impact on public life and morality.
The Impact of Technology on Media and Culture
It cannot be argued that media has been immensely influenced by the technological innovations and advancements, impacts that, in their turn, affected the way people live. There has been a great technological influence on how one platform leads to the emergence of the other from stone carvings, inscriptions, and the quill feather to the pen, and printer, from the Discman to the Walkman, Xbox, iPod and iPad. For instance, had there not been the discovery of ink, the quill feather would not have been used as a pen to write on the scrolls. Furthermore, if the paper had not been discovered, the Germans would not have discovered printing. In other words, it is the emergence of one technology that enabled the creation of another from very primitive forms to the more advanced ones. Having concurred with this thought, it can be agreed that these innovations and advancements that keep changing have greatly influenced the political, economic, and most importantly social systems of life. Even crimes have evolved with the media changes. For instance, cybercrime was a crime unheard of two or so decades ago. However, now the government is thinking and rethinking on how this sophisticated offence can be combated.
In addition, the communication satellite launched into space and orbit around the Earth is a technological phenomenon that has greatly influenced electronic communication and security. Electronic waves are polarized by this satellite, and it is what has ushered in digital television broadcasting as well as remote communication and control over aircraft during the flight. This shows how NASA relies on the satellites to perform the majority of its exploits. On the other hand, the influence that this might have had on surveillance and people’s privacy can be seen in a negative light. Therefore, it is worth noting that technology has greatly impacted the media and the way people live.
Media Impacts on Culture
From the postulations outlined in the section above, it cannot be argued that the people’s way of life has been greatly impacted by the media, whether it is mainstream mass media, electronic media, print media, or social media. The subject of the media impact on the American culture is broad. This paper will address the good and bad influences that the media has on the lives of Americans with an inclination towards electronic media and social media and the role the internet has played in this issue.
The Positive Impacts of Media on American Culture
As it was mentioned earlier, the people’s (culture is multidimensional and multifaceted. It can be regarded as a political, economic, or social way from a broad perspective. Therefore, it is worth addressing how these cultural facets have benefited from the media.
Speaking about politics, it is a subject that could be misunderstood as part of living. However, it is a way of living. Thus it has immensely benefited from the media. There are major international channels that are dedicated to airing news in America like the CNN, Fox, Global News, Bloomberg, DW channel, CCTV, Al Jazeera, and BBC amongst the others. It goes without saying that the majority of the news articles aired on these channels have a lot to do with the events in the political world. Politics immensely dictates many spheres of life that governments and leadership formulates to govern and lead. The government has to play this huge role in the people’s lives to communicate something to them. At the same time, the government needs to be checked to ensure accountability and good governance. When politicians are seeking elective positions, they heavily rely on the media to air their plans and manifestos to woe people to vote for them. Once in leadership, those who are elected need to make the civilians aware of the plans, policies, problems, solutions, etc. they have and the ways the American citizens can benefit or be affected by any of these tenets. To communicate this information, the governments rely on the media. The media is also handy when it comes to scrutinizing those in power, elected, nominated or appointed as well as vetting those who intend to be given political offices. The leaked information about governmental corruption and political scandals have provided the electorate with the information they can rely on to judge their leaders or leaders to be. For instance, some news alluded that Hilary Clinton lost her presidential bid due to the leaked scandalous information on her when she was a state secretary. Therefore, American politics have been greatly shaped by the media.
The business world has greatly reaped from advancements in media and communication as well. The economic world is shaped by how well people do business. A key ingredient of the firms’ and portfolios’ success is advertising and customer feedback. Therefore, these subjects are greatly influenced by the media. The days when people would be seen flipping through the classified pages and columns in newspapers are gone thanks to the online marketing and advertising through the social media. Nowadays newspapers are even read from people’s smartphone on their palms. Giant multinationals operating on US soil have heavily relied on the internet to source out information about new markets they seek to venture. The stock market information can be obtained from the comfort of a person’s living room thanks to the internet and digital communication. Moreover, American people have got employment opportunities advertised through different social, electronic, and mass media platforms. Finally, through eBay and Amazon, people can buy products online lowering costs among the other benefits.
The interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions between the individuals has greatly benefited from the media, too. Reality TV shows and programs have influenced a lot of people. Such shows as Steve Harvey, Dr. Phil (shows aired on American Television channels) among the others have offered people solutions to the life-threatening predicaments. Other shows like America’s Got Talent and the Idols have been platforms through which Americans have got a chance to demonstrate their talents and special abilities propelling themselves to greater heights in life. Digital media platforms and the social media have emerged as important tools to educate and offer DIY solutions to problems at home, school, and workplace. For instance, by simply typing and clicking ‘How do I disinfect a cut’ on Google, a person would get to know what they need and how they can disinfect a cut without visiting a healthcare facility. Today Americans have court sessions across the states like New York and California via video streaming. Learning by correspondence (online/virtual learning) is another big gain from the digital media advancements. A good example of this is the online postgraduate learning offered by Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Immigrants and visitors in the USA from the other parts of the world can follow news and programs from their homes even in vernacular languages via internet streaming. These and other gains are owed to the media Americans have today.
Negative Impacts of Media on Culture
Despite numerous gains that American people have drawn from the media, they have equally been negatively impacted by it. Some of these effects are so far-reaching that people and institutions are less likely to recover from them.
Despite the leaked governmental corruption and scandals, like the Clinton emails, the media has also been subject to hacking and leaking the classified governmental intelligence which could put the US in jeopardy. There are strenuous ties between Washington and Moscow over alleged Russian hacks into the US classified data and the likelihood that Russian hackers could have influenced the outcomes of the 2016 United States presidential election. Civilians have also used social media to mobilize and conduct anti-governmental protests such as the Arab Spring and the Ukrainian Revolt and propagate the religious extremist attacks like the Michigan one.
Moreover, the media has had innumerable and far-reaching effects on the social life. Taking into account cybercrime, identity theft, fraud and con, child pornography, predatory hackers, phishing scams, Trojan horses, internet trolling and stalking, viruses and worms, and the pedophiles preying on the young American children, a person can see the dark side of the media, especially of the digital and social one. Leaving children at their discretion in their rooms without parental control and with access to the internet has exposed them to all of these vices. Letting children off the hook due to the ignorance, cybercrime and trolling has hit American adults, especially the females. Apparently, children rarely do their homework. All they need to do is access the internet, and voila, they will be heard shouting five minutes later, “Mummy, I know it all now”. The American media has also been propagated a lot of nudity recently, especially in advertisement, leaving a lot of people wondering if there is any respect attached to nudity and why so many advertisers invest in such ads. The question raises whether they intend to sell the product or nudity. It is worth mentioning that there is an associated attitude of “It’s my life” seen on TV, and social media and theologists are apprehensive of the community turning to be perverse with degraded morals. Apparently, the economic sphere has not been stricken, and it could be indirectly hit through a phenomenon like cybercrime.
Summing up the discussion about the impact of the media on the American culture, it is worth restating that the media, technology, and culture are intertwined, and that the American culture has continuously suffered the ripple effect of changing technology and media. As the paper pointed out, media and technology have continuously evolved and affected the way Americans live. There could be a lot of apprehensions, especially from the perspective of the social life due to the negative implications of mass, electronic, and social media on the American people’s lives. Nonetheless, Americans have greatly reaped from the media across all the facets of life. Therefore, before demonizing the influence of the media on the culture of the US Americans, it is worth looking at both sides it has and then make judgments and inferences.
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Grabbe, H. (2016). Preface. American Studies Journal, (61). http://dx.doi.org/10.18422/61-01.