Local Teen Learns About Media

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The word “media” can be defined in many ways. In art, the word’s definition means an artist’s subject matter. If you want to be literal, it’s the plural form of “medium”. It is also used to name a form of technology that we all love and know—social media. In broader terms, however, media is simply the means of communication through a society. For example, a news broadcast about a kitten stuck in a tree would be considered media, as would the next viral hit on YouTube. Media connects people together throughout all sorts of different mediums, including (but not limited to) television, newspapers, tabloids, and the internet. Even The Onion, as satirical as its fake news reports are, is as much of a form of media as TIME Magazine.

What does it mean to be media literate? One can assume it means to understand media, or to be able to comprehend the messages made through media. It would be like watching a news report and understanding why it was noteworthy enough to be featured. Another interpretation may be learning about media jargon, like how “LMAO” doesn’t have the same connotation to today’s media as it did ten years ago. Today, “LMAO” is used more as an addition to the end of a sarcastic message rather than a response to a funny remark, possibly symbolizing the growing cynicism in our society. These are very literal interpretations of the term “media literacy”, and I hope they are somewhat correct because that would make this class a lot easier for me to understand.

Social Media Role

Humans are social creatures. We thrive in the company of others, so of course we created ways to be social without face-to-face interaction. Social media is, to me at least, a viable form of communication. It’s certainly faster than sending a telegram or using the Pony Express to message your friend in California— they don’t call it “Instant Messaging” for nothing, after all. If pen-pals were such a big deal in years past, how has the more modern equivalent gone down in respect?

As a frequent visitor of the internet, I’ve made valuable friendships online that I’ve grown to cherish more than ones from school. Social media can be used to bring like minds together in a way that other forms of communication can't. Unlike more traditional methods of meeting new people, such as a limited window of time in which you and the other person may be occupying the same coffee shop and feeling pressured to speak or never interact again, online friendships may occur after moments of self-preparation and preparedness.

Online articles-- Fact or fiction?

Everyone has heard that phrase countless of times. It implies that the internet is the end-all, be-all of modern day information. With hundreds of databases and resources open for public use and readily available at just the press of some buttons, it seems like finding correct information today is just too easy. However, if you look at the odds, it's much more likely for an article to have (at least some) false information rather than being completely correct. Some sources are even incorrect for humor purposes. If one were to look up a ridiculous article, such as Taylor Swift Now Dating Senator Joseph McCarthy, they should probably understand that something so ludicrous as that would be satirical. However, there are plenty of people who don't attempt to fact-check articles like these, thus believing that the twenty-six year old singer is in a relationship with a politician from fifty years past. The Onion, a parody of online news sources and other various clickbait, is full of articles similar to this. The idea that people are so blind as to believe everything they see is an unfortunate truth.


In today's society, we place importance on entertainment. We watch football every Sunday, we invest ourselves in movie trilogies, and we even keep up with the Kardashians. These programs are given to us as means of entertainment, but is there an underlying reason as to why they are so prevalent? One theory entails the usage of media as a way to keep the population distracted from real-world events. If people can be so enthralled by the scripted life of a generic B-list celebrity, then a government could easily hide a horrific event occurring the same day if something more appealing is on air. People seem to prefer being blind to the world rather than educated if it let them keep entertainment. "Ignorance is bliss" is a common phrase used in this context.

Snowden vs O'Brien

Edward Snowden, known for leaking information from the NSA regarding privacy, can be easily compared to and contrasted from the main characters of George Orwell's 1984. While Snowden is regarded as a traitor to some and a hero to others in the United States, Winston and O'Brien would be perceived as strictly one or the other to the rest of Oceania. Snowden and Winston have similar ideas of justice, however, both taking matters into their own hands trying to prove the government's lies and wrongdoings.

O'Brien vs Winston

To determine whether either man was a victim or villain to the government of Oceania, let's review the definitions of both terms. According to Dictionary.com, a victim is "a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency", while a villain is "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime".

Based on these definitions, I'd place Winston as a victim of the government. He is fooled into believing he can stop the government, save the world, and get the girl too. He had no malicious intent towards the people of the government, only the concept of it and Big Brother.

O'Brien is harder to place as he did not receive as much exposition as Winston, but I feel fairly confident in placing him as a villain. He knowingly tricks Winston into believing he is an ally and definitely had malicious intents behind his beliefs.

Reflection #1

In all honesty, I wish Media Literacy were more like my concept of the subject rather than the actual course. My Smore was about looking at modern media and analyzing it—Which, I suppose, is what we did during the beginning of the year. However, once we reached reading George Orwell’s 1984, I felt my spirit plummet and my excitement for this class diminish. It was incredibly drawn-out and it felt as if I took a course on Dystopian Anthology rather than Media Literacy.

Some things I can take from this class is that life is bleak and heroes never win. In all seriousness, I am taking what I learned from the advertising unit and using it to analyze further media. How can one evoke strong emotions of want or desire of a material object within a minute? It’s fascinating, really.

In all honesty, I didn’t find this class too different from 11th grade literature. I do not know if it is because this is my second year being taught by you, Ms. Gray, or if the courses are genuinely similar. As far as my memory recalls, we had similar units based upon social movements(a la our recent cutout activity).

A way I can suggest making the class better would be to spend less time on 1984 and more time on actual lessons. As relevant it was to the topic of dystopian novels, I do not think we should have spent as long on it as we did. I dreaded going to class every day and doing nothing but reading the same book for weeks upon weeks, trudging through the block only getting through one chapter a day. Perhaps making the students read at home to make the book go faster would be a good idea? I’d just rather not subject future Media Literacy students to the same droning torture that I had to endure.

Prince Ea-- Reflection #2

I’m so tired of all these anti-technology, anti-millenial, “Thomas-Edison-was-a-witch” type people who only see the flaws in social media instead of celebrating what it can do.

On Facebook you can connect with old friends whose numbers you lost years ago, and it’s especially useful for alerting loved ones that you are safe during a catastrophe. As someone whose friends live mostly an hour plus away, it’s difficult to always meet in person. Programs like Skype help me see my friends and be with them even though we’re miles upon miles apart.

I don’t personally find technology to be a societal crisis. Rather, I see it as social evolution— people are finding new ways to communicate that expand beyond spoken word or a handwritten letter. I’m sure people felt similarly to now when email was first introduced; What do you mean, letters are being replaced? Email’s only job is to distract people from more meaningful methods of communication like a handwritten letter.

Addiction to technology is a real thing. There are articles on BBC and The Huffington Post talking about it, and it can be found on multiples sites and forums dedicated to addiction. Most technology critics seem to hype it up to be more common than actuality, however. I, for one, use my phone quite often. More often than any other form of media, I’d say. I use my phone to talk to friends, scroll through my feed on various social media accounts, and even check the news for world and local events from politics to puppy races. Does that make me disconnected from reality? Just because the medium changed doesn’t mean communication isn’t occurring.

Just because someone is always on their phone doesn’t mean that they spend all their time playing Candy Crush or checking Instagram or Twitter. They could be wishing someone a happy birthday through text, or planning the rest of their week on a calendar app, or even typing up an essay on Google Docs or a Word-like app.

Technology is on the rise and is rapidly expanding, especially since the internet has only been available for public use since August 1991. With the invention of the modern smartphone, the original iPhone, in 2007, things have just been getting better and better for today.