How Media Consumption Shapes Our Personal Lives in Comparison to the 20th Century and the Role of Media in Society
There are numerous ways to transfer and obtain information that is currently known to humans. Nonetheless, it was not like this all the time. Even throughout the previous century, society was way more limited in terms of how they could obtain certain information or transfer it to someone else. While the quick pace of technological revolution shaped our perceptions regarding the ways of conveying all kinds of data, there is still the question of how effective were data transmitting practices back in the day and what are the differences that make the modern practices either good or bad. Therefore, the current paper will serve as a possibility to investigate the two outlooks on the processes of exchanging and obtaining information.
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This is going to be done in the form of comparative analysis to ensure that both my and an older relative’s opinions regarding the use of mass media are included in the evaluation. Much attention will be given to the use of social media and mass media (newspapers, TV, radio, Facebook, etc.). The interview will be conducted in person. It is vital to mention that the comparison is based on the idea that the focus of research is on mass media consumption that took place when the older family member was younger. The analysis will include the most predominant mass media sources that were used, how frequently they were addressed, and what were the benefits and disadvantages of those information sources. This research paper is designed to investigate the question of inter-generational differences in media usage and consumption and allow the researcher either to prove or disprove the usefulness of numerous social and mass media information sources that are currently available to humans.
To start with, the relative mentioned that there was a limited number of information resources available to them at that time. Those sources included black and white TV (Cable Network of Egypt), several local newspapers (The Egyptian Gazette and Egypt Today), and a resident radio station (102.2 MHz Greater Cairo Radio). He said that it was rather interesting to see how there was no particular development of these sources and the majority of news tended to spread by word of mouth. Nonetheless, the relative also mentioned that the information presented in the local newspapers was always relevant and on point. One of the most important aspects regarding the times when my relative was younger was that there might be a situation where “each source could share their interpretation of the facts,” and the news would turn out to be different among all sources (relative’s name, personal communication, November 19, 2017).
It was also surprising to find out that my older relative did not watch TV a lot. Particularly, this might have happened because “there were only two channels that broadcasted in the area” and there was no reason to spend all the time watching the TV when all the latest news could be learned from the local newspapers (relative’s name, personal communication, November 19, 2017). One of the points that also surprised me as a member of the younger generation was the frequency of my relative checking the latest news – two-three times per day. Nevertheless, the relative stated that “it could have been worse not to have many sources of information at all” and I can agree with it (relative’s name, personal communication, November 19, 2017). Accordingly, he also added that the lack of information sources did not hurt his life at that time. Instead, “the balance between the real-life and subjective news” was identified as practically perfect (relative’s name, personal communication, November 19, 2017).
At the same time, it was rather exciting to see that my outlook regarding the use of social and mass media was different. From what I can tell, I do not watch TV at all, and I rarely consult our local newspapers. For the most part, this happens because I do not see these information sources as useful. Instead, I spend the majority of my time checking on my Facebook timeline and the Twitter feed to be aware of the latest news. The current technologies allow us to stay updated and learn about the latest events and incidents within a matter of seconds. The high-paced rhythm of my life also leaves an imprint on my interaction with different information sources. Another social media network that seriously contributes to my awareness regarding the latest news from around the world is Instagram.
In a graphic form, it presents all the data, and I am used to checking the app for the latest events and updates for at least ten times per day. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook because, in reality, different social networks cover different stories from all corners of the globe. For me, there is nothing more important than finding out the latest news using a huge variety of social media applications. I do not see any advantages in the use of mass media such as TV, newspapers, and radio. These three share the same information at the same time and do not provide the end-user with a possibility to learn different things within a matter of seconds. If I had to pick one, I would go with the radio because this information source reaches out to a rather large audience and broadcasts in real-time.
When it comes to the inter-generational differences between the perception of mass media and social media, there are not as many as one would assume. First of all, the older generation was exposed to the lack of choice as they had to stick to the information sources that they had (here, one should also consider the fact that all information providers shared the same data). On the other hand, the younger generation has all the possibilities to choose their preferred means of learning the latest news and disregard conventional methods such as the radio, TV, and newspapers. For the majority of the younger population, the use of these outdated means of obtaining the latest updates is confusing. Another key difference between the older and the younger perceptions is the idea that the modern population can live without newspapers, for example, while the older population could not (practically because they had no other options if they wanted to be aware of the state of affairs).
Even though the chances to be the first to obtain the latest information have increased lately, the chances to get caught up in a news hoax have done the same (Damasio, Henriques, Da Silva, Pacheco, & Brites, 2015). Therefore, I can claim that the information sources that were available to the older relative were more consistent even when being slightly misleading. In the case of the modern news, I refer to them much more frequently, but there is a higher chance that this news will not have any practical value. If we compare the levels of media consumption, we will see that the younger generation is more willing to spend their time looking for the latest news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and numerous other social networks. The most interesting fact is that we gradually become attached to these applications and the overall point of checking social network updates so often is to support the habit and not learn something new (Damasio et al., 2015).
To conclude, it may be stated that how the younger generation deals with news sources completely differ from the practices of their older counterparts. It was found that the inter-generational differences in terms of interaction with mass media and social media exist and have to be perceived as one of the consequences of technological progress. The usefulness of the modern news sources cannot be evaluated merely based on the conducted interview. Nonetheless, it can be stated that the role of the networks as information providers has changed significantly and our attitudes toward the use of mass media and social media have transformed as well. Based on the obtained data, I can claim that there are several major differences in terms of dealing with information sources between the older and younger generations, but they are only subject to the fast pace of the technological revolution and not the individuals’ attitude toward certain data sources or social networks.
Damasio, M. J., Henriques, S., Da Silva, M. T., Pacheco, L., & Brites, M. J. (2015). Media audiences – between old broadcast media and new networked media: Materiality and media consumption practices. International Journal of Communication, 9, 26.