Friday, December 22, 2006

our media diet

When I was in college, I produced a video advocating for media literacy education called Arm Them with Canons, Shotguns and Booms. Specifically, I advocated for experiential media literacy education, knowing from my own education that peeling back the layers on production better enabled me to recognize how each decision along the way impacts the meaning of the final result.

One of the images that I used in the video was of a young girl sitting mesmerized in front of a "television" (actually, a cardboard box and a blue light), with a hand coming out of it, providing her with candy bar after candy bar that she ate furiously, swallowing every morsel.

My (heavy-handed) point? I wanted to say that I thought the idea that our relationship with the media was so one-sided, defined by them feeding us information to gobble up without pause was ridiculous. While young people -- all of us -- need to further develop our critical thinking/media literacy skills, most of us (often unconsciously) put the information we receive through a filter and derive meaning from it that is defined by identity and experience.

Anyway, I was just reading about a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this week that includes information about media "consumption". An eMarketer article about the report is titled "Americans Gobbling Up Media" and keeps the eating metaphor going throughout, calling us "multiple-channel media omnivores" and pointing out that we spend more time "consuming" media than we do eating food (I would hope so . . .)

It was only this past weekend that Time magazine told all of us that we were the people of the year precisely because we are NOT consuming media, but because we are producing it ourselves. The food metaphor makes its way into the Time article. "We're ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing," writes Lev Grossman.

I choose to believe that the mere fact that we seek out those "raw feeds" means that we know that the information being communicated by the mainstream media has been spiced up/sprinkled with salt/fileted/stir fried/covered with butter -- that we recognize what I was trying to advocate for all those years ago. T
hat we seek out those raw feeds because we ARE media literate and that we are NOT merely consumers. That we seek out those raw feeds because we know that the information has been prepared to go down easy, but that our gag reflex has always been there.

So, I'm looking to rid the word "consumer" from my vocabulary. I'm a collaborator. I'm a co-creator. And you?

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