Believe it or not, distrust of the media has been around since the Greek ages. Socrates himself pushed back against written records because “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness into their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.”
Today, the explosion of media technology makes Socrates’ concerns look like child’s play. But with each new advancement in media technology, it’s predictable that “discussion and fears [will] follow” (Crash Course 2018). In our current political landscape, those discussions and fears center around the oversaturation of information – specifically the role of social media and biased news sources in using media technology to advance political agendas rather than express “truth.”
Media accessibility is no doubt a good thing. In order for democracy to function, it’s essential that its citizens are educated and have access to information. But in the era of mass media, it’s equally important that Americans practice good media hygiene by performing media analysis. Today the Zoon Garden team wants to share some insight on how to analyze your media in a way that brings you closer to the facts. To start you out, we’re going to outline a brief activity.
Begin by picking a commercial you have watched recently. It doesn’t matter what the commercial is about. Watch it once all the way through, then start it over again. This time, watch with these key ideas in mind:
Gather your notes and consider how these factors function together to create a cohesive message – and then ask yourself why. Who is funding this message? Who benefits if you buy into their idea? Why are they targeting you as a consumer?
Get into the habit of noticing these things. Follow the “why?” as far down as it will go. You might be surprised by what you find.
Further Instructions for Analysis + Worksheets
Socrates, Memory, and the Internet
Crash Course Media
(P.S. – You should practice analysis when reading these sources, too! Analyze this article! We’re not pretending to be immune to motivation – we want to decrease polarization, we want to sell Zoon Garden: The Decline of a Nation, and we want to build a more compassionate world. But most of all, we want to be a place you can trust. We want to encourage close reading and critical discussions. We’re glad you’re here. Keep up the great work.)