Beyond the headlines: Why Media Literacy Matters.

Dearest freshmen,

First, let me just say you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy it while it lasts because the next three to four years will pass you by in an instant, and then you will be forced into the real world as an adult (scary I know.)

While it seems like yesterday that I was in your shoes, so much has changed in the digital world that we live in. You grew up during a time full of evolving media. You were raised on social media and apps, while these only became popular during my high school years.  This is why I have some advice for you; Please be media literate.

I want you to think about all types of media and what meaning they bring to your life. Look beyond the headlines. This doesn’t mean binge watch Stranger Things on Netflix or stalk your ex on Facebook. I want you to be critical. I want you to analyze the digital world around you so that you can talk about the media’s role and its impact on our culture. Think about how this media is serving our democracy. Is it helping to improve political, economic, or social practices?

Take the time to understand how mass media and communication have evolved (iPhones weren’t always a thing you know.)

Social-network-and-communication

Question and scrutinize everything in the media, from television programs to twitter handles. Think about your favorite one or your least favorite one.  Describe it. Then analyze it. Why is it so alluring to you? Why do you dislike it? How is it different than other programs or news feeds? How does it keep you engaged as a consumer? Think about it from a different perspective.

Sure, there are fun gifs and memes that your favorite twitter page generates, but have you thought about the targeted audience or message being sent to promote those images? Have you wondered about the impact of media on a specific audience?

I ask so many questions because I want you to become more than just a loyal follower. I want you to be engaged as a media literate consumer because if you don’t learn now, when will you? Use your best judgment.

2017 is an interesting time. We have a President that many people didn’t vote for, we have fake news popping up everywhere, and we are constantly witnessing social media changes.

If you don’t stop and involve yourself in understanding this media then you may be doing yourself a disservice. Tomorrow, next week, and next month will present us with new technologies. I want you to be an active part in judging their value on our society. It’s your duty.

Your old(er) friend,

Jelyse

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