This article comes from an anonymous Athens resident. It was done in this way at the request of the writer. After some discussion, editors at Speakeasy agreed to publish it anonymously.
Everyone consumes media at one point or another in their daily lives; some listen to music as they commute, some read the paper over a cup of coffee, while others wind down after when they return home by continuing their favorite series in what can only be described as a Netflix binge. It’s easy to see how the American public has become reliant on various forms of media as major entertainment sources in our day to day routines, but at what cost?
As our population, and by proxy, the rate of media consumption grows in the United States, the production of said media has quickly become one of the most lucrative trades in the country! Companies such as record labels, television, video game, and movie producers, and news outlets continue to grow in power and influence each year, as more and more people turn their attention to screens each day. But this has had a strange effect on the quality of such outlets. Present in any subculture, there are people out there looking to make a quick fortune out of our constantly fluctuating cultural interests. This has, unfortunately, lent to the degradation in the quality of media that we choose to consume. It can be seen anywhere; when we turn on the tv, it becomes hard to find anything more than gimmicky reality television or game shows. Pop music has far exceeded the popularity of more complex or roots-based music on the radio. News outlets have become heavily biased and often unreliable. And the kicker is, we have no one but ourselves to blame for this apparent slipping.
Except in special cases, products are only as good as the demand that the population produces. In the case of the above examples, the demand has been for more media, or sometimes more easily accessible media. In this age of technology, in which anything we could want to know is at our fingertips, we’ve become fairly lax in our pursuit of knowledge, or diversity. Social media and similar forms of networking sites have pushed many people into the habit of being fed information, rather than seeking it out. This behavior is not exclusively due to such sites; many people also latch onto specific news outlets/television channels/radio stations for the same reason. The result is often a general lack of awareness, a pervading sense of apathy that settles on the public. People are content with what they’ve grown accustomed to, and don’t feel a need to expand upon that. For the producers of our entertainment, that’s a wondrous, bountiful prospect! It means that those who are looking to make money need only study what percentage of the population indulges in which forms of media, without much concern with producing quality entertainment. In terms of marketing, they need only move so many units for something to turn a profit, and what better way than to reproduce a product that has already proven successful?
These conditions have caused a marked decline in the production of viable media. Most big names in production are looking only to captivate a loyal audience, not to inform or innovate. So as long as we remain captivated by them, and don’t push them to reinvent or expand, they’ll continue to feed us the same content. Pushing outlets can be anything from requesting new content, to seeking new outlets that better suit your needs or tastes, to entirely ignoring unreliable ones! On a large scale, this type of movement is impossible; the level of diversity in this country ensures that certain types of media will continue to succeed while others will continue to degrade. But you, as a consumer, can still diversify your consumption. Try to find more news sources from which to stay current on world events (or if you don’t follow them at all, maybe start doing that!), seek out new genres of music, frequent an information or fiction based website; what you choose to do doesn’t matter quite so much as the fact that you go and do it! The more demand for alternative media that we generate, the more of it that will be produced. Change starts with the smallest of steps.
Do you agree about the state of modern media? Also, what do you think about anonymous writers? Please share your opinions below.