Media World vs. Real World: Globalisation and Our Unequal Relationship With Media

The innovation of technology has been an inseparable part of globalisation. From the invention of printing press to the born of Internet, there is always a strong bond between technology and globalisation especially with the communication and media technology. Flew and Cunningham (2001, p. 77) state, “Developments in communication media are important in all the process of globalisation.” However, the development in media and communication has brought significant impacts. One of them is the consequence to live in two worlds: the real world and the media world (Potter, 2001, p. vii). The real world is where we live in direct and real experiences while media world is the world where we live in mediated experiences. In other words, in globalisation era, we have at least two relationships. The first one is our real relationship with real people, and the second one is our relationship, as audience, with media.

Unfortunately, sometimes, there is an unequal relationship between media and audiences, which make the audiences, become the subject of the media. According to Althusser, “individuals are always-already subjects” (1971, p. 176), even before they are born. He argues that before its birth, “the child is therefore always-already a subject, appointed as a subject in and by the specific familial ideological configuration in which it is ‘expected’ once it has been conceived (1971, p. 176)”. In the globalisation era, we are the subject of media, technology and anything related to technological innovation. Consequently, as the subject in media-audience relationship, we have at least three tendencies. The first tendency is a will to be on media or covered by media. The second tendency is a strong belief that media cannot be wrong and the third tendency is our media experiences takes over our social experiences in terms of defining our social life, which make most people feel that the real phenomenon is just something off media.

The Tendencies as Media Audience

The boom of reality show can be seen as a proof of the first tendency. Reality show is the most dominant program on Asian television recently. A data from CMS Media Lab shows that in India, since the 2000, reality show is the most popular content in television, far more popular than news (Vasanti, 2009).  In addition, reality show is also very popular in Australia. It can be found in every Australian TV station. One of the reasons that boost the popularity of reality show is the possibility for common people to be in media. For them, media is like a perfect world that is very contrast to their real world. It is like a key for them to gain success. Thus, to be in media gives them hope to have a better life as the lyrics of a British song: “We all want to be famous. Be a face on the screen. Read our name in the papers. Everybody wants to be on TV. Everybody wants to be on TV” (Scouting for Girls, 2010). By this I mean, to be in the media is a common tendency in this globalisation era since people think that it is a key to success.

The second tendency, the belief that media cannot be wrong, is happened among the audiences who are not highly literate in terms of media. In my experience, people in rural area tend to be less literate so they freely accept whatever they get from media. I conducted a research in 2008 in a rural village in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The main finding for my research was the propensity that people with less media literacy tend to believe that media can’t be wrong (Rahmitasari, 2008). There was a little girl in the village who didn’t brush her teeth for months, only because she was frighthened by a news in the television which said that there was a formaldehyde in her favourite toothpaste. The girl and most people in the village do not realise that media has framing and selection mechanism, which makes anything in media, is fully constructed. As a construction, it will never be exactly the same with the real one. Even news, according to Laughey (2007, p. 66) “is not a neutral product” which means news may contains several purposes and interests from the media. In the case of toothpaste issue, it was lately found that the television only made an overgeneralisation and did not conduct sufficient research. However, as I previously mentioned, the tendency to be not sceptical to media is still exist among media audiences.

The third tendency is caused by the time we spent in media world, which is more frequent rather than in real world so we choose to believe more in media. In a daily basis, how many hours do we really spend in real world? Nowadays, people are always connected to Internet, anytime and anywhere. When we wake up, instead of open up the curtain so we can see the sky and predict the weather, we turn our phone on and browse the Internet. When we walk, instead of looking at the surroundings so we know what happens in our neighborhood, we update our status on social networking sites. When we shop, instead of calculating rational budget, we tend to be impulsive buyer. The reason to buy something has no longer rational background as Baudrillard claims, “consumption has nothing to do with physical satisfaction or happiness” (cited in Merrin, 2005, p. 18). Thus, the decision to certain product is no longer about satisfaction nor happiness. This is why the tagline of iPhone ads is simple: “If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone.” Besides, it is now common for Human and Resources Department in one institution to search on Google or view the Facebook profile of its interviewee before deciding an approval. It is a proof that we have been relied on media a lot to define our social lives.

Finally, it is clear that globalisation has created unequal relationship between media and audiences, which has led to the three tendencies above. Unfortunately, most people do not recognize those tendencies. This is because the reception process, as the relation with media, may happen in unconsciousness level (taken for granted). Hence, it seems like we need to increase our awareness about media so the concept of global village from Marshal McLuhan will not only signified by the free access to information, but also by the equal relationship between us and the source of information or in this case: media.

References

Althusser, L. (1971). The state ideological apparatuses: Ideology interpellates individuals as subjects. In B. Brewster, Lenin and philosophy and other essays (pp. 141-148 & 170-177). New York & London: Monthly Review Press.

Cunningham, S., & Flew, T. (2001). Thank you very much and good luck: Media. In C. Sheil (Ed.), Globalisation: Australian impacts. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd.

Laughey, D. (2007). Key themes in media theory. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

Merrin, W. (2005). The gift of speech & the communion of the excommunicated and ‘those things not of God’. In Baudrillard and the media. (pp. 18-27, 43-38) Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Potter, W. J. (2001). Media literacy. London: Sage Publications.

Rahmitasari, D. H. (2008). Media literacy of rural families. Bachelor, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta.

Vasanti, P. N. (2009). The reality of reality TV in India. Retrieved from: http://www.livemint.com/2009/08/07004438/The-reality-of-reality-TV-in-I.html

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