Opinion: Does the media control what we think?

by Cougar News Staff 16,035 views0

By Chelsea Preimesberger

It surrounds us and is a part of our everyday lives from the moment we wake up in the morning, till the moment we fall asleep at night. The media, it would be hard to function in an industrialized society without it; without television, film, radio, music, or the internet. Like I said, it’s all around us. Since our lives are so consumed with being connected, is it fair to say that the media could have the power to control our decisions? The answer is yes and no.

According to a study conducted by the UC San Diego News Center in 2013, an average of 15.5 hours of media consumption per person was expected to be used by 2015, which did not include media used for work related purposes (Zvernia, paragraph 9). That means that almost 2/3 of your day is being spent on some form of media for your own enjoyment, and only 1/3 or 8.5 hours or less, depending on your career, would be spent media free. It’s hard to think, with those numbers, that the media wouldn’t have some sort of impact on our lives or our decisions.

From the article titled, “Agenda Setting Theory”, written by Bernard Cohen, he states that, “the mass media may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but the media are stunningly successful in telling their audience what to think about. In other words, the media cannot force you to believe in something or to have a certain opinion on a subject, but it can get you thinking about what it feels is important. The media is focusing you on less important issues, so that it distracts you from what is really going on, and that happens all the time in traditional media. For example, our country is in some of the most severe debt of all time, but you aren’t learning about what measures could be taken to fix our growing debt, instead you are hearing about what stupid thing some celebrity did over the weekend.

To a certain extent, yes, the media is controlling some of our decisions. We use media for hours on end and within that media we are being told what to think is important, instead of having an objective point of view and deciding ourselves what we feel is important. On the other hand, the media cannot decide whether you or I agree or disagree, or whether you or I feel positively or negatively about something. At the end of the day, we control what we do with our time and how we choose to feel about it, but the media can control what exactly it is that we contemplate.