Media literacy is an important skill that we need to have while consuming all types of media — including this blog!
Right now, modern humans are exposed to more content, images and messages than ever before. It’s not just advertisements in television and on billboards anymore. We also have Instagram influencers, web site pop-up advertisements and daily press conferences with politicians to decipher too.
Some things to remember:
- what adjectives have they chosen to use to describe what they are talking about?
- what tone have they chosen to use? is it emotive language?
- what statistics and facts have they included? is it balanced? have they left anything out?
- who is the creator? do they gain or lose anything if you agree with them? would they have any bias?
- what about the images? are they edited? is it in very good lighting with a professional camera?
- does their argument make logical sense? if they are an authority figure, could they be using their power to convince you of something?
In addition to using our media literacy skills, we need to understand how the brain works.
We are constantly filtering out things in our outside world to live our day-to-day lives. If we paid attention to all the conversations in a room, and focused on each object in our line of sight, we would get overwhelmed. This has the potential to impact how we interpret media, especially when we are tired.
I have noticed new clever marketing strategies start-up on social media that could easily by misconstrued as benign. For example, medical professionals (usually cosmetic) are using YouTube to promote their clinics by reacting to other medical procedures. They do this to seem knowledgeable, caring and relatable. In fact, it’s an easy way to reach more potential clients.
On the topic of medical procedures: we should not trust the articles we read on a dentist’s website about the amazing benefits of their treatment so easily, even if it’s written like an informative article. They are also trying to sell you a service. Always get a second opinion!
As media evolves, the tips and tricks you learned in your high school English class on media literacy will no longer be enough. We need to be aware and curious about the why of everything we read, watch or hear.