Is There Room In Today’s World For Positive Media?
The Internet was in rare form when Janelle Ambrosia, a woman from upstate New York, became “famous” when an explosive video of her hurling an extended series of ugly racist threats to a black man went viral. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and I doubt it’ll be the last. Earlier that same day, a video was released of pop star Justin Bieber making racially insensitive jokes and comments. Given our 24-hour digital news cycle, people really get to sink their teeth into material like this and at lightning speed. As expected, Bieber released an apology and the now infamous Janelle was calling radio shows to defend her actions. The people weren’t buying it and made such clear by exposing all of her personal information. As I watched this unfold, I had to ask myself, “What good was served by giving this horrible person any attention at all?”
Do we really need weekly reminders of the world in which we live? Our favorite media platforms highlight these ugly moments for a day or two before we forget about them and return to the status quo. This content fuels arguments and Internet jokes and provides writers with great writing material. As I step back and consider all content like this that I see, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, none of it changes anything. We rotate items of outrage at such a rapid pace that the conversation rarely reaches a point of addressing problems and finding solutions. We’re always in a space of reacting to moments — so much so that we are truly missing the forest by staring at the trees.
Today’s media seems more concerned with satisfying its numbers rather than bettering society. Getting the people mad while driving clicks and page views seems to trump the concept of highlighting the good in our world and striving to make ugly incidents like these a thing of the past. Yet, I can’t really blame the media exclusively because we, as a society, are so predictable that it’s too simple not to take advantage of the way we react to certain situations. It makes me wonder how many of us are built for the long haul. To improve the world in which we live, it will take more than comedic memes, hashtags and witty blogs.
It’s as if we’ve forgotten how to put our boots on the ground and do real work. We’ll talk the talk and type up an angry storm, but then what? Can we successfully transition from digital discourse to actual offline engagement?
Ultimately, the cycle remains the same. Media supplies us with information that we presumably find interesting and compelling. This could range from our favorite celebrity acting unfavorably to the various happenings of everyday lowlifes. We, in turn, make no real push to see things changed, but we get mad as hell that these ignorant people exist. It’s the same thing, time after time after time: Justin Bieber, Donald Sterling, Janelle Ambrosia, Madonna, some local members of government… the list continues to grow and with no signs of stopping.
At some point, the way we deal with the negativity when it’s brought to light must change. Clearly, what we’re doing now isn’t bringing us any closer to peace. Now, people do more to not get caught doing wrong rather than eliminating the wrongdoing completely. Some may say that changing the world isn’t even the media’s role. Some feel the media must be a neutral way to spread information, be it good, bad or ugly. I wish such were true, but to find media without some kind of an agenda would be to truly locate an elusive unicorn in the wild.
Sadly, we may just have to deal with things as they are and accept the ills of life while our ever-expanding media continues to show us this continuous reality show.