The 21st century is a digital age where everything has changed into the screens. The digital age has made it simple for anyone to create media. We don’t always realize who produced something, why they gave rise to it, and whether it’s reliable. Everything from books to news, entertainment, and even then information is portrayed on one small screen in our hands. This screen is all media material in this digital age. But most people are unable to analyze and comprehend this media content.
Our people have no idea why particular news or message is displayed or told at a particular time. Why are old news and messages linked to recent times? Why is an actor or famous cricketer filmed in an advertisement? Why have TEA ads turned into dance parties and body showing? Why are millions of people digitally brought together in one place? These are the basic things to think, but a Layman doesn’t even know why he’s so emotional about a normal TV report. Why does he change ideas every day that are actually, changed by some external forces on screens!
This is all the practice of the mass media. The media plays a vital role in determining our thoughts patterns, ideas, and opinions. It used to be a very difficult task to gather people around a single idea but now it has become very easy because of the mass media-digital Age.
Today, the media makes us laugh in grief, it also makes us cry in joy. And where there is a need for critical thinking, it also calms down us, while where there is no need to say anything, it also forces us to speak.
All of this happens because most of us are not media literate. We have no idea how the media is playing with us. This all happens due to the mere fact that we are not well equipped with the very needed media literacy skills.
Media literacy is an effective strategy to challenge the audience to comprehend the constructed nature of media presentations and how that might exploit their own beliefs about themselves and others. Media literacy assures that information communicated is right and of good quality or misguided content has been presented to us.
Media literacy is the potential to know and understand how mass media works. This encompasses how they are organized, how they manufacture their meanings, and how they cleverly use them.
Media literacy is the simple ability to decrypt media messages; assess the impact of those messages on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It encourages us to create media content thoughtfully and conscientiously.
The people who are media literate can certainly formulate the role of media in their lives. They know the basics of media and enjoy using them deliberately in a receptive way. They have a full distinction that protects them from being unnecessarily stunned and therefore has full control of their media experiences.
Media literate audiences are better able to understand the sophisticated messages we receive from media. Media literacy skills can help us to develop critical thinking skills, understand how media messages picture our culture and society, comprehend what the media wants us to believe or do, recognize bias, twist, misinformation, and lies, correlate the parts of the story that are not being told, evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, skills, create and disseminate our own media messages, and to know the functional propaganda in the news and talk shows.
Media infers the past but never shows us what has made us so passive audience.
The purpose of media literacy is not criticizing or offending the media, but the actual dilemma is that it is a powerful force in our system and therefore should be scrutinized fairly and not calumniated.
Now, you need to know that media literacy is not a magic stick to figure out all our problems but rather our best protection to resist manipulation and to keep a perspective of the messages that are a part of the manufactured media.
Media literacy is therefore about assisting the audience to become skilled and critical in the different media forms so that they are well prepared to control the interpretation of what they see and hear instead of letting the interpretation control them. To be media literate is not about saving or taking statistics about the media but rather learning to put forward logical questions about what is seen, heard, or read. Without this ability, an individual cannot have the full confidence to practice citizenship in a society that is democratic like Pakistan.
There is a dire need that we as the readers or viewers must prefer to view the media objectively, to find out or analyze what is being presented. In a perfect world, both sides of every statement or portrayal would be presented and we would be able to make informed decisions based on the information we receive in the media.
As an informed viewer, the responsibility is on you to first be able to read or view the media and interpret what messages are being communicated. Evaluate the messages to assume whether they present a fair depiction of both sides of the argument. It is pivotal for us to consider the source of the information and ask ourselves what the person’s objective is and what it must be! Think for a while, why someone or a media outlet needs to show you 24-hour news and talk shows? Everyone knows that they keep us informed about the world but the hidden part is, they also propagate their agenda in their own ways.
Therefore it is very essential when using various forms of media to consider the purpose of the information you are viewing, also to consider the credibility of the source; as well to assume the opinion or position being presented.
I must say that we need to educate our people to be better media literate otherwise the age of depression and misconception would prevail and we would not be able to do anything. The darkness of injecting ideas would dilute the light of ‘free well’ and free thought patterns. The government must work on the curriculum to include media literacy in our course as this is an essential need of the time. Our children, as well as youth, must know how to use media and consume media content.