Media as a Killer of Self-Determination

From a cultural perspective, the modern media forms the air that we breathe which makes it a necessity. The various forms of media possess a widespread presence in modern life to an extent that it has become difficult to step back and create a theory of media. Thomas De Zangotita’s book Mediated creates a powerful critique of media in modern society arguing that it does have some form of an abundance of representation for any form of event that can be considered as a defining characteristic of modern life. As a cultural mediator, media offers information on the various sets of values, orientations to life, assumptions, and beliefs in addition to the sociocultural conversations that determine how people think and act (Baumann). In this capacity, media becomes a killer of self-determination. In essence, the overwhelming amount of information that is thrown toward a person pushes them towards choosing experiences that move them thereby becoming indifferent owing to the information overload.

The role of media being a killer of self-determination can be seen when one traces their behavior during dramatic events such as wars or earthquakes and pandemics. Initially one reads the news to gain information on what has happened. This is followed by the extensive reading of the smaller bits of the narratives that capture one’s attention thereby enriching their understanding of the impact of the event. The analysis follows with one moving over the other presenting a different form of a story or a different side of the narrative that one did not know about. You quickly consume so many derivative stories that the reality of everything starts to fade. Perhaps, like many people, you look for more intense and exciting stories to make up for this lack of interest. However, the cumulative result of the deluge of knowledge is that you become numb. We strive to be moved by identifying the events that move us, but due to the sheer number of them, we lose interest in them (Schulz). Thomas De Zangotita (2006) presents the argument that the media is pervasive as even elements such as weather are unable to escape the general representation of the media machine. We are exposed to so much exaggeration in the media that we develop a strong desire to feel real, which causes us to favor things that appear to be genuine. At the same time, we began to value people who are skilled at manipulating the symbolic system. Pop singers and athletes are two examples of people we adore because they know how to put on a show and command attention. The element of self-determination is taken away as individuals are forced to view ideas and take them in as per their representation from the media (Ferguson et al).

According to Lon Fuller (2018), mediation is a process that has the power to refocus the stakeholders on each other. This is done without setting restrictions on the parties, but rather by assisting the parties in developing a new and shared understanding of their connection, which will change the perceptions and behaviors of the parties toward one another. As the parties move on with creating their agreement, the mediator assists them in determining their interests and weighing their possibilities (Pauli). Differently from arbitrators or attorneys, the media acts as a mediator who actively encourages the parties to negotiate. Conflict mediation through the media is inevitable and necessary. By the stories, they choose to cover, the ones they leave out, the sources they employ, the facts they include, the way they use language, their own biases, or news frames, according to Melissa Baumann and Hannes Siebert (1993), its representatives define, shape, and frequently intensify conflict. By excluding certain parties and selectively mentioning their most radical members and positions, the media may foster polarization and extremism. When journalists are unaware of their power, this mediating effect can be harmful. This explains Thomas De Zangotita’s position on the role of media in its mediation of perspective that makes people lose perspective of reality and act in accordance with what they are presented with by the media without question. By the stories they choose to cover, the ones they exclude, the sources they employ, the “truth” they include, the language they use, and their own biases or news frames, media representatives frequently characterize, influence, and intensify conflict (Fürsich). Because they frequently fail to acknowledge or refuse to take ownership of the power they exercise, journalists can be risky mediators.

According to Zengotita (2006), meditation is something that enables you to engage with reality via another, leading to a much deeper analysis of how our reality itself is altered. In a world of media, we have many alternatives and decisions. There are thousands of options available for each of the activities you can engage in while reading, listening to music, playing a board game, or reading a magazine here. Get real or reality hits are phrases that denote that a person’s alternatives have become significantly more constrained. Media in its mediation duties make reality difficult to distinguish from the representational reality. The shift in our predisposition for introspection and the different levels of awareness we have of being on-stage actors. Because mediation involves more than just naturalized performances, it implies that all those hazy, soothing possibilities and representations that stand between the real and us are part of a vast, unavoidably complex theory. It implies that everything in our culture is geared for and focused on you. The media loves a good fight. Conflict provides news stories with a significant and intrinsically engaging story element, and is a typical example of viewing value one factor that determines whether an event is newsworthy (Schmeer). As a result, reporters and editors frequently highlight extreme viewpoints and divisive subjects in their work. With such a focus, news reports may worsen rather than resolve a disagreement. Deceptive methods are not encouraged, and sincerity, openness, and integrity are considered positive qualities in a mediator. The persistent rules, values, practices, and behavioral patterns shared by a group of people are referred to as their culture. Shared information, beliefs, art, legislation, morals, attitudes, conventions, behaviors, and habits are just a few examples of how it can appear. A dynamic model of meaning-making, culture drives thought and recommends acceptable feelings and behaviors. Any society has subcultures, and every person can identify with multiple cultural groups. Conflict can be said to be influenced by culture since culture provides meaning for disputing parties, making it vital to conflict.

Media kills the element of self-determination as it creates a reliance on its information presenting it as truth. The social determination theory comes into context in this instance. According to the theory, human motivation is primarily derived from meeting various psychosocial demands. Connectedness, independence, and competence make up these psychosocial requirements. Humans have a sense of worth for other people, and having people in their lives they value is also tied to their psychosocial needs. As a result, it is increased when one feels appreciated and included in their surroundings, whereas it is lowered when one feels rejected and chastised. The psychosocial desire for autonomy calls for people to feel as though they are doing it deliberately rather than under duress. Thus, the ability to make decisions on one’s behalf strengthens it. Media creates this situation where people believe they are deliberately under control of their situation as they have the full perspective of what they are watching (De Zengotita). What they do not realize is that the image they are given to them is mediated to align them to take on a specific thought process. The feeling of autonomy that the media provides the viewers and users creates a situation of confidence that what they are doing is under their own will rather than the duress created by media expectations owing to the information they put out.

We have developed a dependency on the media as a result of its ability to provide us with a comprehensive understanding of global events. In this situation, we fall prey to what the media provides to us. Authenticity is a problem that has been highlighted as a way the media kills self-determination. Every representation loses value if there are numerous different variations of it. The sense of reality in this commodification of representation shines out. People choose the tales that they can identify with out of a personal, distinctive media diet driven by this quest for authenticity. In our own life, we look for extremes as a way to feel more grounded and media provides us with a false impression of these ways of feeling grounded. Because there are so many options available, we have become obsessed with pursuing in our own lives what appears to be the most real in the media, even though it is extremely strange (De Zengotita). In this context, mediation refers to the various filters and access points to reality; they may be our computers and smartphones, which put the power in our hands and allow us to do so comfortably at home. For instance, pop culture has been mediated by the media to the point where we now perceive it as a phenomenon that characterizes our modern way of life. We are unable to create genuine thoughts by ourselves as we have created this reliance on media to present to us the ways of thinking about a particular subject (Khan). In the modern world, we engage with reality so little because our experiences are so heavily mediated. The majority of what we experience in daily life is packaged for us, helping to soften and dull the edges of reality so that it flatters us.

The modern conveniences of media contribute to the killing of self-determination. But as more and more technologies, particularly digital ones, have invaded our environment, we have been able to tailor our lives to the point where we become irritated when we can’t easily chat to a buddy halfway around the world because the net isn’t functioning correctly or when we have to use a map book because the GPS on our phone isn’t working properly. Due to the sheer number of potential outcomes in our universe, we can almost limitlessly soften the harshness of reality. In the end, we become victims of media where we follow diligently what the media shows us thereby failing to use our common sense in reasoning.