Mobilizing Power of Media

I started this post the day the lights went out on Wikipedia in protest to SOPA- Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA – Protect Internet Privacy Act. These were two proposed US legislation intended to ‘protect’ copy right material online, which was defeated by the end of the week. In my opinion largely related to the mass outcry by corporate bodies and the general public protesting against the proposed changes. If this bill passed it would have meant that the next 14 year old girl that posts a video that uses her favorite pop song on a vacation photo slide show makes us all criminals and would shut down YouTube entirely.  I don’t think we can affect the architectural structure of the Internet drastically, its becomes ingrained into our way of life, we need to be able to freely ‘surf’ the Internet to use it to its maximum potential to share information, recourses, and connect with our communities. A blog post that I read which was posted to FaceBook by the CBC The Hour host George Strombolopolos written by blogger Slashgear, which breaks down into laments terms SOPA and PIPA to say, “these two bills…are amongst the most dangerous pieces of legislature ever to be written up for passage by the United States government in regards to innovation and the free market on a global scale,” so in other words they are opening a big can of worms, (Slashgear, 2011).

“There is little debate over the fact that institutions of mass media teaches us about citizenship, community, and love, but there is little agreement as to just how much it causes us to act or determines what we might hope for or what we might fail at,” (Jackson, Nielsen, Hsu, 2011, p. 8). The institutions of mass media, I feel that they teach us about mass culture, mass production, and thus decreased individualism, and also isolate us from our traditional communities, while also forming new communities, offering a cultural narrative of the times and also sharing more information than ever before. I can see why a lot of theory related to media and mass communication is either negative or positive, with not too much in the middle.

Taking the ‘us’ and ‘we’ that the authors refer to is the idea of the public. This quote also alludes to the notion of the public sphere, so where the people come together to collaborate, discuss and debate.  This notion of the public sphere was first coined by Jurgen Habermas, in the 18th century and was generally an ideology that represented society and its laws and regulations and governing of anything else concerning public good (Jackson, Hsu, Nielsen 2011, p. 32).  When we think of critical social discourse or social change it is to speak of the public and the public sphere the citizen’s abilities to come together and challenge the status quo. The new technologies are definitely shifting the power dynamic of mass media where any average citizen can report, blog, or engage with media institutions but the power lies in the numbers.

Cornelius Castoriadis believed that institutions of media are created by contradicting forces, creating the new, and repeating what has already been done and viewed media communications through a sociological lens, (Jackson, Nielsen, Hsu, 2011). Castoriadis was a scholar turned economist, turned pseudo political, societal and psychoanalytic writer, who started a revolution in the 40’s and whose work is somewhat under recognized in communications theory extensively, (Castoriadis Biography, 2011). I feel he is relevant in discussions of the meaning and impact of mass media because he was writing in precarious times comparable to the turbulence together between classes and relates to my feelings and reactions to mass media and its theories which are of binary opposites, sort of like painting the lines between the love-hate relationship with the power of persuasion so to speak. I honestly have a profound respect and appreciation for institutions of mass media because like them or love them they are a link between PR and publics. I’m not trying to be completely pessimistic in assuming a critical view but the more I study in the field, and the more knowledge I have about politics and modern society, the more I question the overall moral obligations and ethical considerations that have often been lacking in PR in regard to greater public good.

Occupy movement which stands against corporate greed as a fundamental principle was like a hurricane gathering strength through media coverage- so using the same frameworks of communication that they protest to gather strength. An in both new and traditional means, but yet part of what many of them stood for was gripping distain for rich and powerful (aka like the media institutions). Again the contradictory forces are at play.  I mean I can’t really unpack this entirely this after all is just my reflections, a whole dissertation could be written on this but it supports my belief that in today’s society the public and media are unquestionably intertwined, in love or hate.

My tweet summed up my feelings on this in 140 characters or less; ‘They created mass consumption and enforced it on us- when we produce mass sharing and learning they try to take it away,” in response to SOPA and PIPA and blackouts last week. I am glad that a united front by the public worked- if only until next year. It shows me that people who care can make a difference. If something like SOPA and PIPA return again next year and are passed in the US, Canada and the UK could be next.  If we are not all on the same page about the free future of the internet, I think that a big part of a modern democratic society fails. We have to keep control over the mobilizing power of the media as a general public, that means Internet as is.

About lovelytellyourmother

CEO of A-Team Inc. Smart. Brave. Kind.

Posted on January 22, 2012, in Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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