The 21st Century’s Library: Media

24 April 2018 Comments Off on The 21st Century’s Library: Media


Imagine a library, but a giant one. Imagine millions of books, of every kind. In this library, every visitor is free to choose the book they want, to read, research or write everything and anything they wish. In terms of function and variety of sources available, modern media can be considered in a similar way. Both traditional and new media tools create a platform for the users to gain information from countless sources. In this century, the broadest source of information is social media.
Social media is at the center of our lives: in our hands, in our pockets, on our desks, and sometimes on our laps. Everyone who has access to the internet, on devices from phones to computers, unites on the same platform. The use of such technological devices has increased greatly, and people have started to access the internet anytime and anywhere; the power of social media has therefore likewise increased.
In the past, no search engines existed; people used different materials for different purposes. They needed to choose the source according to their purpose – cookbooks for food, encyclopedias for history, dictionaries for definitions. However, in today’s world, technological developments have changed the whole system. First, there are many more sources of information than there used to be. Second, it is easier to access any kind of information, and easier to restrict, order and combine the results of a search. This has all come about through the growth of media, which have thus become society’s primary source of information. As people have come to depend on the media for all sorts of information, the media have gained power to influence society.
Due to their easy accessibility and the variety of sources they provide, today’s media have become the primary source of information and, as such, are looked to by all age groups. What is released in the media is consumed by many layers of society. This interaction between the media and all age groups increases its influence on society, affecting not only the present but also the future. This is because the media have a greater impact on children. Publications shape the minds of youth, whether intentionally or not. For example, children may encounter violence in the media. Later, when they grow up, they reflect the violence that has been placed in their subconscious. So, media products impact both the present, through the adults, and the future, through the children.
It is a fact that the media have great power in society. This power should be used in a good way; the aim should be the education and development of people. Thus, media practitioners should consider ethical norms. Journalists should be aware of the fact that the information they release will be powerful enough to influence people. In order to have a peaceful society, the media should make available peaceful and sustainable sources, and take ethics into consideration at all times.
Even though the flow of information in the media should aim to nurture the development and advancement of society, the media have unfortunately become more profit oriented these days, with materialism taking precedence over values. Journalists tend to create biased publications when working in an environment where it is not the content of the production, but the profit that will be made from it that is more important. Although the media used to be ethical, as this area becomes more and more a market-driven field, it sets aside social accountability. But to have a healthy, functioning society, the tools that connect people must also be healthy. As the media started to lose their ethical grounding, serious social issues arose as a consequence. Since ethics provide social order and enable people to build healthy social relationships, the absence of ethics in the media has a direct effect on society. People tend to learn and apply what they see around them. It is at this point that the media have a great impact on the ethics of society. As people see unethical behavior and values in the media, they get used to such ideas and practices, applying and following them in their own lives.
Social media provides people with great opportunities, but its incorrect usage harms society. People have started to forget their values. Statistics show a clear decrease in the number of books being read. Relationships in families are not as strong as they used to be. When individuals have spare time, they focus their attention on social media. People are not as close to nature as they were in the past; they do not talk to each other as much, and are not as physically active. In addition, social media is creating a common culture. As people all around the world share exactly the same information, they start to value and do the same things. Insofar as this creates bonds between people, it is beneficial; however, at the same time, the individual characteristics of different societies and cultures are being lost.
Humans have the ability to employ logic and rationality. We are able to decide what is wrong and what is right. Using this ability, we should ensure that we are aware of both opportunities and dangers. Technology and social media are two of the greatest opportunities of our century. We should gain information and benefit from them as much as we can. But while doing this, we should not forget where we have come from. We should always remember the duties and responsibilities of being a human and also an individual. If we do not, the greatest tool to date for gaining and circulating information might become the greatest enemy of humanity.