Office Of Multicultural Affairs

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) was established in 2002 to support the College’s efforts to attract, recruit, and serve both students of color and international students. Our mission is to create and sustain an environment that encourages and embraces the contributions of people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OMA student discusses passive consumption of the news media

We passively take in a massive amount of information on a daily basis, more than our conscious minds can handle. By the end of the day we've forgotten the majority of that information. But what about the things we take note of and intentionally store in our memories such as lectures, advertisements, newspaper articles, newscasts or stories? I would argue that although we do not obtain this information subconsciously we are still obtaining it passively. 
The American Heritage dictionary defines the word passive as "accepting or submitting without resistance;compliant." As a society we accept information as it is given to us by the popular media. We deem particular people (newscasters, editors and other professionals) as credible sources of information. 
We often do not consider that the information we are receiving from them may not be entirely true. In reality the media is often presenting us with biased information that perpetuates rigid social constructs such as gender roles and other stereotypes or misconceptions.
In addition, other professionals such as doctors, scientists or teachers also present us with less than comprehensive information. In many cases it is not that these professionals are trying to mislead us, it may just be that they do not have all the facts themselves or may only be presenting one aspect of the information. 
Think about when you go into to a clothing store. A responsible sales associate politely greets you then directs you to the store's sales rack. Among other things, the associate tells you how little the clothes cost and how nice they look. 
What they do not tell you is that those clothes are on sale because no one else was interested in buying them, they have a high rate of returns, or they are made with a thin fabric that is easily damaged. 
On the surface you see nice looking clothes at a low price so you buy them without knowing all the facts. As a society we are always "buying" things or "buying into" things without knowing all the facts.
As daily consumers of information, it is scary to think that many of us are forming opinions and making complex life choices without considering or knowing all of our options. Luckily, popular media isn't all bad. With social media a simple post can provide someone (particularly young adults and other youth) with an instant forum for discussion, debate and information sharing. With that simple action we can become active and informed consumers of information. We can even take it a step farther; with a little poking around the Internet anyone can receive a wealth of additional information from peer-reviewed sources to blog postings.
With all of the over-simplified generalizations we take in on a daily basis, 21st century technology provides us with a simple means of accessing more in depth and varied sources of information. 
Of course it is crucial that we are just as critical of the information we receive online as we are of other sources; however, seeking out a variety of sources allows us all to make more socially responsible informed decisions. 
It is important for everyone in all facets of life to remain cognizant of the fact that there is almost never only one side to a story or one right answer. 
Next time you turn on the news or hear a convincing argument give it a second thought or a third or even a fourth. If you're feeling particularly daring, maybe you'll even tweet about it. 
- Anna Hunt 

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