Is Digital Media eroding away at our cultural values?
"Radical changes of identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive of human values then wars fought with hardware weapons " (Laws of Media, Marshall and Eric Mcluhan, 97). The authors concern is that not enough art (right hemisphere) and too much logic (left hemisphere) will erode our culture. The author goes on to say that "new service environments of information has left whole populations without personal or community values." I think main stream media has created a problem with people losing their culture, values and ideals. For example, take some of the crappy t.v. shows that create a lot of drama and produce nothing of value. I tried watching the show "Desperate Housewives" which for me was a very high drama show with nothing of value. After watching one episode, I asked myself "wow, what was the point of this show and did anything come out of it?" My answer was nothing and I have never watched it again. This is just more enterainment and people look at it in this way with no discussions being had, just more noise surrounding the drama. This is were the author makes a good point, of our society "eroding away" which can be directly realated to bad television programming. Medawar sees motor accessories as an extenstion of ourselves and are there to enhance our lives by creating convience and lessening hardship.
Sensory objects, like the T.V. has a different effect on people which is nothing of an extension of a person but an object which can be used to entertain, educate, or be complete nonsense and a waste of time. According to an online article, "The Good and Bad effects of TV on Your Kid", kids watching cartoons and entertainment television during pre-school years have poorer pre-reading skills at age 5 (Macbeth, 1996). This is true if parents do not restrict and or monitor what their children watch. The T.V. has a lot of subliminal messages to try and sell or convience people into different ideals and ways of thinking which may not be true. This is why not only monitoring but having deeper discussions about media, especially digital media is critical.
T.V., if used properly, can be a great tool for educating people and can help to preserve our cultural views and values. Take for example The History Channel, which talks about historical events and shows the viewer what we have learned from history. The history of World War II, talked about how the world mobilized against Germany, Italy, and Japan. Then showed after the war how the world advanced in medicine, transportation and communication technologies. This is one of the many great educational programs that The History Channel provides for people. Science ficiton shows like Stargate SG-1 have a very interesting storyline and at the end of each show reveal a lesson that was learned. Having these type of programs or well written T.V. series, can keep the cultural values alive and people educated. Digital media, especially T.V., need to combine and promote more elements of quality enterainment like The History Channel and Stargate SG-1 type programs.
As T.V. has started to go online (Hulu.com, Netflix, Youtube, etc.) it has given us more choices and freedom to watch the programs that are of interest to us. So these new digital media platforms can provide everything that T.V. can provide and more which can help us preserve our values, culture and identity. I believe that people can choose to watch and discuss digital media in a way that is fun yet constructive. My girlfriend and I have cut out cable T.V. completely and watch only movies or Netflix programs that are worthwhile. We then discuss the programs or movies that we are watching which opens up a lot of different discussions. Last night, we watched the movie, The Rite and had a great discussion about exorcisims and the Catholic religion. Another show we watched was Prison Break on Netflix which we discussed some of the believable and unbelievable events that happened on the show. This is were I believe digital media can be an "extension of a person" in that what can be learned or taken away from a digital media experience is the key
to preserving cultural values and intellectual inquiries. It is not just about the experience but the overall feeling, development, inquiry and reasoning behind what we get out of digital media.