The Critical Role of Media Consumers

By: Maria Caicedo

We are overwhelmed by information; our constant connection to Facebook, Twitter, BBC News notifications, and many other mediums creates a on-going flood of news in order for us to be kept up-to-date. The currents of information conflict as a result of polar opinions claiming to be sincere, when in reality neither side may be telling the whole truth. Ideally, the media should put aside partisan coverage and finally decide to be impartial. The fight does not begin at the top of media conglomerates, but instead from the consumers of media. So what is it we must do in order to combat the illusion the media perpetuates?

There are three roles we can take as media consumers. The first is what I call the ‘Unfaltering Loyalist’, this would be the media consumer who takes a certain perspective on an issue and is devoted to that view no matter what. All narratives that agree with their opinion is fact, and all that differ is fiction. In turn, they become deaf to the nuances of the issue and assume it is bias propaganda aiming to misguide the public from fact. The Unfaltering Loyalist is the consumer who encourages clashes between the media and perpetuates false illusions about what is happening in the world. These consumers widen the gap and make the objective of neutral news more unattainable.

The second role is the ‘Apathetic Drifter’. As the name insinuates, the Apathetic Drifter does not take an opinion on the media but rather lets the tidal waves wash over them. They are passive consumers, and uninterested in the conflict that exists in mass media. Their apathy can be so ingrained that they can even just be simply unconcerned that there is an issue to brawl over at all. Though the Apathetic Drifter does not encourage divides between media sources, they also do not put forward an effort to stop the fourth estate’s illusions from being fabricated. They prefer to be bystanders who not only allow bias media perspectives to be accepted as reality, but refuse to enlighten themselves on what is really happening in the world.

Finally we have the ‘Critical Thinker’, this is the role all media consumers should strive for. This person does not assume one perspective is always correct in the manner the Raging Loyalist does, nor are they complacent to passively consume the news without care the way the Apathetic Drifter does. The Critical Thinker takes in the illusions the media spins, and then critically analyses them to better understand what is the truth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to strive for this role. The Critical Thinkers are the media consumers who will be able not only to pull the media to objectivity, but to forge coalitions between opposing sides for a solution. Critical analysis of the media to destroy illusions translates into understanding conflicting sides for consensus to be reached; this is particularly important when considering human rights. The world struggles to grant all people equal rights because of clashing opinions. However, if all people—both in media and those who consume it—adopt the qualities of the Critical Thinker, then there is hope one day all people will enjoy their humanity.

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