Media, undeniably, is a dominant structure of power. It contains the authority to influence, mold, shape and develop ideas ranging from commercialized news to streaming propaganda. With an unlimited outreach and an ever growing audience, the media is not an institution that is expected to die out anytime soon.
However, what most people don’t realize is that controlling the media is not the only form of power. In fact, it is media literacy that has transformed into an unraveling form of true empowerment, a skill so critical that rarely is it ever implemented within society. The commodity continues to be so greatly underrated and infrequently used to the point that as individuals, we fail to differentiate between simply consuming media and consuming it critically. Therefore media literacy is no longer a skill, but it becomes a necessity.
Before being able execute the concept, one must visibly define and comprehend the notion of media literacy. The idea is composed of a repertoire of skills that allows an individual to not only absorb the millions of message around them, but to evaluate, analyze and reproduce that content in an educated and indulgent matter. Critical analysis also includes examining construction techniques, patterns of media representation as well as detecting propaganda, censorship, and bias. Understanding what is happening around you is one thing, asking why it is and who it telling that story is another.
In an age where education is strongly emphasized, it is crucial to prevent an institution to instill one’s morals, values and ideas. For wasn’t the holocaust justified through the power of propaganda? Aren’t drones acceptable since the American media initially refused to report its tragic effects on civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? Didn’t various Middle Eastern countries, starting with Egypt, attempt to censor its media during the birth of the Arab spring?
Therefore one can only reinforce the true power of media literacy. Its capabilities are beyond than just reporting, but it obtains the supremacy to oppress, free, educate or destroy humanity, as whole or on an individual basis. Questioning what we hear and where these sources are coming from must be conditioned into our daily consumption. For what may seem like the truth now, may not necessarily prove to be as such 50 years from now. Look back, our history only seems to prove us that point exactly.
And consequently so, with the thousands of flourishing messages constantly being fed into the human brain of what is considered acceptable in society ranging from body image to political secrecy; it has become more crucial than ever to be aware of our surroundings.
Because if you don’t think for yourself, the media will think for you.