Redesigning Society: Media Literacy and Constructive Design
By Mera Szendro bok at Jul 06, 2010
There has been a deep communications shift which has occurred with the advent of the internet. We engage with media differently now. Rather than just reading our newspapers and staring at our televisions, we all have the opportunity to be media creators, to create unique visual, audio and written works online. This shift from consumption to creation is key to evolving our relationships with ourselves, each other and the challenges we are facing today.
In order to harness this extraordinary opportunity to better communicate through media we must better understand the verbal and visual design that makes up our daily interactions with the world. Our critical thinking capacity when it comes to media and messaging must become more sophisticated in order to evolve our minds and change the world for the better.
There are still large groups of people, while opinionated about what they see and hear, are not asking: Why have I been presented with this information or image? Is it factual ? Is it healthy ?
Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff explains in his book Life Inc. How The World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back that today: “People are surrendering their agency. Human beings are under utilizing their cognitive capacity by choice, they would rather have Glenn Beck in charge.” Our motivation to speak on the things that matter to us, to use our agency or power to communicate, has been dulled.
A large majority of humans are not consuming media critically and in turn many are have massive problems detecting propaganda and responding to it directly. The boundaries of our national dialogue on healthcare reform, financial reform and now the BP disaster have been controlled by elite communicators, talking heads who many times have little ability to share their real thoughts when communicating, or more importantly disseminate substantial, factual information to the public on these critical issues.
Because of this our vision of what the world could become is too narrow and traditional. Our sense of imagination about community, understanding and compassion has been directed by contrived verbal and visual dialogues about our place within the ecosystem.
There are so many things we as citizens know should be changed in the world. If we had the opportunity to redesign society, many of us would. I am writing this to tell you that WE CAN REDESIGN SOCIETY. As artists, communicators, designers, filmmakers, we can redesign our mental environment through visual and verbal artistry. If you take nothing else from this writing understand that our consciousness can change from the design of media that surrounds us.
Many of us are displeased with the shallow, highly saturated, consumer culture that has only worsened with every generation ensuring that every child now has a new set of cultural and social stereotypes to fight off and struggle with. Most people’s perception are largely shaped by advertising, media programming on corporate media channels who are literally fueled by the bottom line, the success of their advertisers. The advertising model for media has been a sick experiment gone wrong. It has not fueled creativity through communication mediums but tarnished and molded it’s content into mass propaganda.
Edward Bernays is called the “father of spin” or “public relations”. His vision of marketing to the public was shaped by his cocaine fueled uncle Sigmund Freud. Century of the Self is an excellent documentary which discusses the far reaching effects that Bernays and Freud’s perceptive has had on modern day advertising and propaganda. They brought into this world advertising that centers on the individual, playing off a individuals greed, insecurity and created a culture of wants rather than needs. Products are marketed as a things that can make you a cooler, sexier, better you. This sort of design breeds intolerance, insecurity and materialism.
Destructive design manipulates the truth, encourages ignorance, promotes racism, homophobia, sexism and ageism. This sort of design we see everyday, if people were more media literate we could better understand how destructive this type of design is to our consciousness and our evolution.
Our relationship with our own spirituality, life, death, and environment has been reshaped by media. This is our reality and not necessarily a bad thing, because our own creations and designs are an expression of our spirit. Unfortunately some of the most prominent images in our society our toxic.
I support the First Amendment and believe all have the right to express themselves, but we the people must be far more media literate to take back control of our own experiences and perceptions. Feel empowered to create your own message through a photo, painting, blog and audio, but make it CONSTRUCTIVE for those who engage with your work.
We can achieve so much if we become more aware of what we design from our ideas into words and works of art. This short window we have to transform the relationship with have with our environment, war and each other relies on our commitment to truthful messaging and constructive design that broadens our awareness.