Last night, I was baking the brownies when I discovered I was out of vanilla. Not a big deal, brownies can be made without vanilla. However, I really like the flavor vanilla adds to sweets so I was quite disappointed. On a whim, I picked up my phone and asked google what substitutes you can use for vanilla. Instantly, google loaded and the top result (without me even clicking on an article) informed me that equal parts of maple syrup can be used in place of vanilla. Perfect. In went the maple syrup.
Insignificant worries such as a vanilla replacement for brownies is really that easy now, thanks to technology. Most of the time, I do not think about how extraordenary this ability is: it is normal. However, my studies on mass communication and media literacy have been making me think. It was only about thirty years ago that the world was a very different place. Information was still limited and it took time to find the answer to questions.
In order to answer my simple vanilla replacement question thirty years ago, I would have had to wait until the next morning to go to the library (since the library would have been closed by late evening). At the library, I would need to find the cooking section, look for the baking cookbooks, pull a few probably contestants, and then take them home to read and hope that my question would be answered. More then likely, I would spend hours reading, probably discover some new recipes to try, but never find my answer. Also my brownies most certainly would have long been eaten without any vanilla flavoring.
What a difference thirty years has made!
Instant communication has posed many questions of ethics, morals, and concerns. Most of these question are valid and should not be ignored. Here are some of the more controversial questions people have asked about media:
- Is media making millennials less sociable?
- Are certain types of media partially responsible for violence?
- Has media influenced obesity rates, especially in 1st world countries?
I could give you my answers to all of these questions, but it would only be my opinion. Studies have been done on all of these controversial questions and there are resource to support opposing sides of each argument. There is much more bias in the media we consume then we would like to admit.
Some questions to consider:
Is opinion and bias good? Does it make us think? Or do we fall victim to believing everything we consume?
And most importantly, can you tell the difference between opinion and fact?
Most of us have question about media even if we have not voiced them. This is positive because it means we are still thinking critically. Here are some questions I have wondered myself:
- How much time is healthy to spend on media?
- How much media am I believing without realizing it?
- How critical do I need to be when consuming media?
- What is media doing to us?
Furthermore, as a blogger, I have a unique role in the media because my readers are reading this post for my opinions and ideas. Also, I have to assume that if you are reading my blog, you value my opinions and ideas over those of another blogger or media. This is an interesting concept. While my goal is to write open-mindedly, it is virtually impossible not to write with a strong bias that reflects my personality, my morals, and who and I am, not only as a writer, but also as an individual.
In conclusion, it is important we think about media, both in how we consume it, and in how we contribute to it. Media goes two ways. People are unique from each other and consequently, we each consume, interpret, and are affected by media differently. We also need to understand how we consume media and how much of it we involuntarily believe.
In case you were wondering (and read this entire post) my brownies with the maple syrup turned out quite delicious.