As a graduate student, especially one in an accelerated program like CICS, it’s easy to say that I have little to no time to watch television. After all, I’m at my assistantship for 20 hours a week, attending classes and labs for about 14 hours a week, meeting with groups for at least 5 hours a week, and working on projects, papers and readings during any time I have left.
However, even if I don’t turn on my TV when I get home at night, I sometimes forget that I basically have a handheld one in my pocket all day. If I’m on my phone, I’m usually consuming media. Even as a light user (as I would like to describe myself), I still read articles, watch YouTube videos, or watch Netflix in small increments throughout the day on my breaks. Though these are not “television,” they are still forms of mass media, and I believe they have the same major effects.
We have learned through Gerbner’s “Cultivation Theory” that viewers who watch a lot of TV will overestimate the occurrence of real-life violence, and will perceive the world as a “mean and scary” place. Violence has become a rising trend found on television, but in my experience, it doesn’t stop there. Violence can be found on our social media websites, in YouTube videos and in many Internet streaming service’s shows.
So, whether you watch traditional TV or not, most likely you are still experiencing its effects. Even knowing this, I still consume too much media, and I try not to judge others for consuming too much themselves. However, I believe there is a difference between blind consumption and being aware of potential media effects. Knowing that too much media can cause us to perceive the world differently is important, perhaps more important than making the decision to stop consuming it. In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to ignore media all together. Instead, we must keep educating the world on what mass media is capable of and always be aware of our habits and our perceptions.
– Rebecca Kizer