If you’re familiar with communication Studies, you’ll know that media literacy is not just about accessing media content. It’s also the ability to create, navigate, analyse, appropriately ‘interpret’, and use various types of media content. It also involves reacting rightly to media content.
Media literacy strives to equip one with the skills necessary to engage with media content from a perspective that makes it almost impossible to be swept away by media sensationalism. It enables us stay ‘safe’ from potential harmful media content, and saves us much physical, emotional, psychological and economic stress on the long run.
A lot of media illiterates have stormed the media scene today. Thanks to smartphones, social media and other social networking sites and apps. Everyone has suddenly become an online journalist, with many blogs, podcasts, and videos berating our senses on a daily basis. So it’s not surprising that someone would create a ‘threatening’ media content, broadcast it to thousands, and compel them to share or suffer grave misfortune. Hence, on a daily basis, we constantly have to deal with media content that is often insulting, sometimes disgusting and even outright insensitive.
The other day, someone uploaded a picture too disgusting to be described on a WhatsApp group, under the guise of educating us on the negative effects of a certain pill. We have seen videos of ‘beheadings’ that took place in 2001 accompanying 2017 news stories. We are constantly told to avoid a certain killer perfume, and refrain from eating banana and eggs. What about the child that’s always being reborn in LUTH with rosary beads in between his fingers? Or the year after year 90th anniversary of Fatima?
Friends, no one is going to take you to the classroom for a course on media literacy. For students of Communication this might happen. But what about the masses who have never taken a course in Communication Studies? It therefore becomes more a matter of common sense than anything else. When next someone forwards a message on any social media platform, or uploads a sensational news story on Facebook, go the extra mile:
– Check the source (is it a mainline news media like Channels TV, or a blog like gossipmill?)
– Does it correspond with the overall objective of your online group or page?
– Verify the information (are there sources in the story itself? Go check out those sources)
– Are there other mainline media houses reporting the same story?
– Do a quick research using search apps (google is a good way to start)
– Does it agree with common sense?
– Is it mainly directed at your emotions? Why?
– Is it religious and or ethnic propaganda? (check for fundamentalist and fanatical undertones)
– Will it truly help someone if shared?
Finally, friends, don’t create media content based on hearsay, and don’t share media content you have not first verified to the best of your ability. When next you receive media content from a media illiterate, rather than ignore it, take a few minutes to educate the sender of such content. You would have reduced the number of media illiterates by one.
God bless you!