I felt that the afterword of Ben Bagdikian’s book, The Media Monopoly, reads like a socialist manifesto. While I understand many of his points and agree with him on some things, I don’t think our country has it quite as bad as the picture he paints. As much as the economic and political landscape of America could improve, I think it’s important for U.S. citizens to keep it all in perspective.
Sure, there’s a need for increased funding for public schools. But at least we have public schools to attend – according to UNICEF, there are 121 million school-age children who do not have this privilege.
There are 3.5 million homeless people in America, so of course there’s a need for more safe, decent, and affordable housing. But we shouldn’t forget the estimated 996.5 million people across the globe that are also homeless.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea:
If you look at our country in the context of the world, we’re all very fortunate.
I’m not, by any means, saying we shouldn’t strive for a better America, I just don’t see any harm in being grateful for what we do have.
But I digress…
Even though I consider myself to be fairly liberal, Bagdikian’s afterword was so over-the-top that I almost stopped reading it. Once he started talking about how television changed American culture, however, I tuned back in. This information is certainly of interest considering the rapid pace at which our culture is changing because of technological advances.
The next article, Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape by Henry Jenkins, explains some of the ways in which technology is changing our culture. One thing that he says is that because technology is so accessible (right at our fingertips), it “can be used to cut us off from our environment and isolate us from people around us.” I think there’s a lot of truth to this statement.
For me, technology has weakened the ties I have with my family and friends. Sure, I have more ties as a result of technology – I keep in touch with some people that I wouldn’t otherwise – but overall, I think communication is getting less personal and relationships are suffering as a result.
Another interesting point in Jenkins’s article is about globalization due to technological advances. There seems to be two schools of thought in this regard:
1. Technology is bringing us together and leading to a greater understanding between cultures; and
2. Technology is causing fundamentalism to rear its ugly head, further dividing the cultures of the world.
While both of these theories have merit, it seems to me there’s almost a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. In many parts of the world, globalization is synonymous with Americanization (#1) and because of this, there’s a backlash of fundamentalism by those who do not want to assimilate.