Media are more than channels of information

In Media Unlimited, Todd Gitlin writes about the impact of media on our lives, and says that we live in something more than an information age:

The centrality of media is disguised, in part, by the prevalence of that assured, hard-edged phrase information society, or even more grandly, information age. Such terms are instant propaganda for a way of life that is also a way of progress. . . .

But we diminish the significance of media and our reliance on them in everyday life by classifying them as channels of information. Media today are occasions for, and conduits of a way of life identified with rationality, technological achievement, and the quest for wealth, but also for something else entirely, something we call fun, comfort, convenience, or pleasure. We have come to care tremendously about how we feel and how readily we can change our feelings. Media are means. We aim, through media, to indulge and serve our hungers by inviting images and sounds into our lives, making them come and go with ease in a never-ending quest for stimulus and sensation. Our prevailing business is the business not of information but of satisfaction, the feeling of feelings, to which we give as much time as we can manage, not only at home, but in the car, at work, or walking down the street. . . .

In a society that fancies itself the freest ever, spending time with communications machinery is the main use to which we have put our freedom. All humans play, but this civilization has evolved a particular form of play: wedding fun to convenience by bathing ourselves in images and sounds. (pp. 5–6)

© Tony Watkins, 2020
The Tony and Jane Watkins Trust oversees and supports the ministries of Tony and Jane Watkins in Christian training, education, and communication. It is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 1062254.
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