Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL June 26, 2015
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Both regular media and social media sources have affected the willingness of ordinary citizens to intervene in complicated, dangerous and bad situations due to the preponderance of media outlet overkill and the instantaneous follow up documentation that is disseminated through televised sources and the internet. The combination of these influential sources has overpowered and neutralized the will of people to look at a volatile situation rationally and make decisions as to how to assess a situation, intervene and resolve a predicament. Problem solving appears to have been left to the media giants rather than law abiding citizens and the proper authorities.
The ability of the media to immediately pounce on a situation from the second it occurs has allowed them to become investigator, prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner all in the same breath. With this kind of agenda, the public is less likely to intervene or participate in a volatile situation. Individuals are dissuaded from using critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities to assess a pressing issue, plus they are wary of the consequences of such an involvement because of the danger and the legal and personal consequences that may occur if they are involved. The media’s narrative whether through television, radio or the internet has become a guiding and determining force for others. Their attempts to determine outcomes before they are presented in a critical, sensible and lawful manner has established a misguided and inappropriate sense of justice in the public eye.
Society has been affected by the mindset of the media with its instantaneous reports, arguments, judgments, and solutions. People have allowed themselves to be persuaded by and accustomed to the media narrative rather than examining and resolving situations in an individual and thoughtful sequence. Sides are immediately taken with no thought as to assessing an issue for its true worth. Citizens have distanced themselves from the real issues that affect everyday lives and have given decision making over to a controlling and hyped-up media that pretends to have all the answers. Public thoughts are held captive and instantaneous gratification is attained through media substitutes rather than courageous commitment. People have hazy thought patterns and lack the will and ability to resolve a conflict and rely on the intervention of substitutes, which doesn’t necessarily bring the truth or common sense solutions to light. When society does not attempt to involve itself, the powers that be assume the guiding role.
As long as present day society is provided with knee-jerk reaction and a talking points scenario to any newsworthy circumstance or situation, reaction by the public is going to be limited to a few of the brave. Their tightly woven narrative and ability to overpower and control situations has weakened individuals from participating in the whole process. Getting involved can be a risky venture and few want that responsibility.
Gastonia, NC Correspondent-In the last decade, the way we gather and report news has undergone a sea change of truly epic proportions. No longer does reportage require a trained journalist and (in the case of TV news) a camera truck complete with satellite uplink. Now, anyone with a camera phone or webcam and a commanding voice can be their own newscaster.
Note: This is not necessarily a good thing. The democratization of newsgathering has led to some stirring investigative work, and the misdeeds of those in high office have been chronicled via clandestine cameras sneaked into closed-door sessions. The world has watched as politicos of both sides have revealed the true contents of their hearts before their wealthiest donors, and we have watched those in authority commit brutal acts of violence on helpless individuals.
But we have also been subjected to scenes of would-be Murrows filming people drowning in floodwaters, being beaten by gangs or carjacked when the “journalist” should be calling the authorities or at least throwing the poor sap a rope to pull himself to shore. The story has become more important than the society, and we all suffer for that.
Where we perhaps suffer most, though, is in the loss of objectivity. The “mainstream media” has been demonized, and niche websites and video channels purporting to tell “the real truth” about whatever ax is being ground have proliferated like buzzards on a corpse. Unfettered by the need to appeal to a broad audience or advertisers, these loudmouthed agenda-hawks cast the facts in whatever light they see fit, until we no longer have a clear picture of anything.
Public comment is a wonderful thing when you get to hear both sides. Sadly, that rarely happens anymore.
Asheville, NC Correspondent-When most people discuss the impact of social media, they are referring to dangers of a generation that has documented every facet of their lives in the indelible medium of social media coming of age. The first president who openly talked about drug use on Facebook as a teenager has likely already been born. Yet, there is another side to this changing pattern of documentation.
Cyber-bullying has received a great deal of attention as a new source of fear for young people. Despite the hype, today’s young people are no more vicious or catty than those who came before them. The difference is two-fold. First, there are fewer safe spaces for kids. If a child in a previous generation had a bully at school, that bully could not follow them home to continue the harassment. Cyber-bullying is far more pervasive. Second, the anonymity afforded bullies by the internet emboldens them to greater savagery than previous generations.
Still, in spite of these new dangers, cyber-bullying has a significant weakness: documentation. Parents and teachers can now see clearly the pattern of abuse that a victim has endured. This information should enable them to better intervene in these cases to protect victims from this behavior. While cyber-bullying may be new, bullies are not. The requirement that someone stand up to them remains as true as it ever was, and the digital age provides new and powerful tools with which to do so.