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Media Literacy: What is it?

What is “Media”? The first thing that comes to mind when I hear this word is television news, social network trends, anything and everything people hear and see on a regular basis. Everything online or on air that leaves an impression – either good or bad – on the people of our nation. Media can be biased or unbiased, the former more often than not; some report true to life, and others twist things out of context to help their side of a story. Media could showcase things about the presidential candidates of 2016, a picture of a dress that everybody on the internet can’t agree on the true color of, or even what the Kardashians are up to this time; regardless of the subject, these are all things that the people of America, and the world, talk about all the time.

“Media Literacy”, I believe, is one’s awareness of the media, and perhaps how well that person understands all the media they are exposed to in their day-to-day life. Those who are more media literate than others probably have a better idea of the world around them, the current trends, but also are probably not those more ignorant souls who believe anything they hear. Controversial topics are often brought up in media. In my opinion, an individual who is media literate should be able to read over or listen to several different viewpoints on things, as well as be able to pick out the facts in a story, before deciding on how they feel.

A Day in the Life Without Social Media

Going an entire day without social media, well that's quite a task for some. A choice few people would be fidgeting and frustrated every time they would reach for their phone, and have to stop themselves from checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. These websites and apps have become such a regular part of our lives that it may feel very strange to not be glancing over them for at least several minutes, an hour, or more daily.

In my own personal experience, I honestly wouldn't find it that difficult to refrain from social media to post and read things, but using it as a form of communicating with others is a different story. Fortunately for me though (in this situation at least), most days I only talk to one person outside of school over the phone, and there are ways to reach him other than social media: texting or calling. That being said, I don't think going the day without social media would be a difficult task for me, even if when I do manage to drift onto it, I too find myself scrolling and losing the next thirty minutes to an hour at least. It's hard to stop once you start, finding the latest viral videos or "Vines", seeing recent news, and clicking on links to take you off somewhere else to, more often than not, waste more time. It's a vicious cycle it seems, and one of the likely contenders that students will use to procrastinate typing up assignments like this (not that I did that of course).

Fact Checking the Media

When it comes to today's media coverage of current events, often times the news may not be portrayed one-hundred percent accurate to what actually occurred. This is why not only going to several different media sources to get your news, but even going to specific sites on the web to double check the facts is an excellent route to take. The media will almost always have some sort of bias swinging one way or the other, and some tell small lies, and even substantial ones.

According to Kim LaCapria from snopes.com, an article published by FM News falsely stated that "should Donald Trump become President of the United States, his first priority would be renaming New Mexico". The site the article originated from is apparently called failmuch.com, and is intended to be satirical and completely fake. The title FM News makes the articles out to be more legitimate though, and an unsuspecting browser of Facebook or Twitter who came across a shared article such as this may be totally willing to believe it right off the bat. This is why it is important to do your research and double check the news left and right; don't just go blindly following anything you see!

Source: http://www.snopes.com/trump-rename-new-mexico/

1984: Life of a Prole

"They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and, above all, gambling filled up the horizons of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult." - George Orwell

I would definitely say that media, sports, movies, television, and other mindless use of technology is definitely a big distraction of bigger issues in today's world. It's actually been a little scary in the past seeing how uninformed people were when a reporter came across them, asking about current events, and even simple American and world history at times. While a portion of citizens make an effort to have at least basic knowledge of current events and world issues, quite a number of people are still so absorbed by reality shows and celebrities that they really just don't know!

Now things are not nearly as bad as they are in Orwell's 1984, but I do believe that there are many less-informed people that, if they made a greater effort to educate themselves on relevant information, would not be so quick to conform to "popular opinions".

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Beginning in 1941, the oppressed Jewish people living in ghettos in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe began to fight back against the genocidal regime. This revolt spread to concentration camps, and those prisoners then made the brave move to disobey their Nazi captors. This revolt is very moving because of how even those Jews, who learned of their unthinkable fate, were strong enough to band together and fight back.

The Jewish people found what weapons they could, both those smuggled in and stolen from the Nazis. They used these weapons to fight back with force after trying civil disobedience. The more hopeless Jews that stood up valiantly, the more there were that could hear about their actions and follow with revolt.

Winston / O'Brien vs Edward Snowden

In 1984, Winston and O'Brien are both similar to former NSA subcontracter Edward Snowden in certain ways. These men are (or were) all once part of a group (The Party; NSA) that they have developed contradicting views of. Winston and O'Brien are both blending in to the Party, while secretly working to undermine the party. Despite the fact that the people of their own generation will never see this victory, future generations will; those people are the ones that Winston and O'Brien fight for.

Snowden is slightly different in the sense that, while he once was affiliated with the NSA, as soon as he discovered unsettling information, he turned against them; he's not secretly hiding within the NSA and working against them in small ways like Winston does with the Party. Ed Snowden firmly believed that the people should know what their government was doing, and that they should see just how serious it is. Winston also believes this, but doesn't go as far to reveal himself and go up to just anyone and tell them; it's clear that in the society of 1984 this is no viable option. If Winston decided to do this, he would never stand a chance against Big Brother.

O'Brien and Winston: Victims or Villains

I'm honestly unsure how Winston will end up, but it would be a sort of happier ending if he was somehow able to hide that last bit of resistance against the party; even if they were to kill him, the goal is to brainwash him first, right? If there is even a minute amount of hate left for the party in him when he dies (or when it's all over), then that is a victory for Winston and a failure for the Party.

Following the theme of dystopian literature though, Winston may not make it through after all. The terrors of Room 101 may prove to be too much for him, and he may succumb to the Party's wishes in the end. This would be a more unfortunate ending, but not entirely surprising or unexpected. But Winston has definitely proven to be a difficult case for O'Brien; it may be possible that this triggers some type of change in O'Brien. Winston certainly seems special, I mean, how could they possibly have time to watch all of the thought criminals for years, and then take all this time to break them down through torture as well? It's rather strange to me.

The Anti-Love Theme of the Party

What would it be like, living in a truly loveless society? One where you can't even trust all those that you hold close: parents, friends, spouses, sons, and daughters; should your mind fancy the taboo thought of love, you would have no one to rely on but yourself. This is the world that George Orwell has rendered, and the ruling Party commands, "Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves" (256). A prevalent theme in the novel, the eradication of sex, love, and loyalty, is something that is crucial for the Party to stay in power. If there is no love between citizens, who does all that love go to? Why, Big Brother, of course!


Media Literacy has been an interesting course to be a part of this semester. I actually expected it to be even more focused on real life and current events than it was, but appreciated the mix of other topics that were thrown in and, in a way, they balanced it out. I believe my first interpretation of the definition of “Media Literacy” hasn’t changed a whole lot, but if at all, perhaps to include more of a connection to literature. Media Literacy is not just an understanding of current issues in our world today, but how to find them in the books we read and the movies we see as well.

This class was quite a change from your everyday language arts class, and it was very refreshing, to be honest. It felt like the topics of the class were more relevant than just reading and writing reports on books, or analyzing poetry. One of the things this course has taught me of course, is to not procrastinate, and to get more sleep at night if you have to sit at a desk for an hour and a half, reading a book the next morning. On a more serious note though (even if that was not a joke), this class teaches young adults to pay more attention to the world around them, if they don’t already, which is something of great importance for future generations. Often times you see teenagers with their heads stuck to a phone, or other screen of some sort, but this class makes them realize the dangers of being blind to what’s going on in the world. Being well-educated and informed is one of the best things you can make an effort to be in life.

Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

When it comes to technology, we humans seem to be taking one step forward, but two steps back. Such amazing advances in the technological field--they showcase miraculous feats of the human mind. But while it aids us in so many ways, it is slowly poisoning us as well. Prince Ea's message about the damaging effects of technology addiction on society is truly eye-opening. This does not mean we should be rid of technology altogether, because of the fact that it does so many extraordinary things as well, but we as individuals need to learn to control it.

If everyone started to make the choice, at least some of the time, to take a look at the world around them, to put the phone down and have a conversation with the people in front of them, rather than keep their eyes glued to a screen, perhaps this problem would not be so bad. I am guilty of this just as much as anyone else; there are times when my mother gets upset with me for doing something on my phone instead of talking to her when she's right beside me, and I've started to learn that it's more important to pay attention to her while she's around. I think this is a step I've made in the right direction, and it shows her that I do care, that I love her and she's better to me than a little electronic device.

I have felt sad before to not have as many pictures of the things I go out and do as other people on social media I see, because I often forget to take them. But part of me realizes this can be a good thing; it means I'm more focused and enjoying what's actually happening than worrying about getting a snapshot of it. The reason I actually want those pictures is for my own self to look back on and remember though, not because I want others to know what "cool" things I've done; even that is a step away from the superficial world of social media.