Social Media Literacy: The 5 Key Concepts
Users now have more power than could have been imagined twenty years ago because to advancements in online digital technologies. The usage of social media platforms has not only made it possible for us to communicate with people all over the world, but it has also given the average user more opportunities to convince and sway others. We are no longer only recipients of media; rather, we are both producers and distributors of material, in addition to editors, opinion leaders, and journalists.
Where does media literacy fit into the current climate of the media industry? How can we be sure that the destructive ideas and messages we spread through our online social network are not being perpetuated by us? It is possible that as our ability to influence and persuade others grows, we should also see an increase in the critical frameworks that we are able to apply to the media that we produce as well as the media that we consume. No longer is this a battle between us, the obedient consumers of information, and them, the powerful institutions of corporate and governmental media. When it comes to spreading negative messages through the media, the adversary is frequently ourselves.
I came to the conclusion that it would be most beneficial to revisit the fundamentals of media literacy, which include its five core concepts. Despite the fact that these were developed in 1987, at a period in which online participatory media did not yet exist, I discovered that they are still valuable for obtaining a critical awareness of social media as well.
The Origin of the 5 Concepts
These fundamental ideas originated in Canada, and they are the product of years of discussion and debate on the topic inside educational institutions, advocacy groups for the media, and government agencies. The development of a fundamental structure for addressing problems in the media, such as commercialism, propaganda, censorship, ownership, and stereotyping, was the primary objective of this project. These concepts are still applicable in today’s world and can even be used to address contemporary contentious topics like online privacy and the neutrality of the internet. Most crucially, we are able to apply these ideas not only to the content that was produced by “the powers that be,” but also to the stuff that we ourselves have developed. They can act as more than just a framework; they can also serve as a guideline and a reminder of the power that we, in this new age of media that is more participatory, have right at our fingers.
As stated by the Ontario Ministry of Education in Canada, the following are the five essential ideas, with the language altered somewhat from what was originally provided. The people who work at the Center for Media Literacy have authored the quotes that are located beneath the concepts. These quotes provide the clearest explanation possible of what these concepts represent and how they should be implemented.
First and Foremost Essential Idea: Every Single Message in the Media Is “Constructed” “This is undoubtedly the most essential idea. The media do not only mirror the realities of the outside world. Instead, they provide constructs that have been meticulously designed and are the product of various judgments and determining variables that have been taken into account. Deconstructing these creations, which means pulling them apart in order to demonstrate how they are put together, is one of the goals of media literacy.’ — Medialit.org
Key Concept #1: All Media Messages Are “Constructed”
When we use an internet meme or upload a selfie, we frequently adhere to implicit guidelines for how these photographs should seem and what they should imply. We frequently contribute to the perpetuation of media images that do not accurately reflect our lives and the authentic selves that we are by doing things as simple as smiling in front of the camera in a way that is not very natural and by the way that, particularly in the context of images of women in the media, we pose and display ourselves for the camera. When creating one’s own media, one should be aware of how imitation of popular or approved media images might come into play, and one should be aware of what influences outside of one’s own life and values might be shaping how one creates and shares original content online. This is especially important when creating one’s own media.
The second essential idea is that the messages we get from the media shape our perceptions of the world.
“The majority of the observations and experiences upon which we construct our individual understandings of the world and how it functions are the result of being exposed to various forms of media,” A significant portion of our perception of the world is formed on the basis of media messages that have been preconstructed and already contain predetermined attitudes, interpretations, and conclusions. Therefore, a significant portion of our perception of reality is derived from the media. — Medialit.org
Key Concept #2: Media Messages Shape Our Perceptions of Reality
How often do we seize the opportunity to share uplifting or lesser-known stories about our own experiences that aren’t part of the popular trends on Twitter or written by the writers at Comedy Central? How often do we look further than what’s being reported in the headlines to discover different viewpoints, share that information, or offer our own opinions? Which photographs, articles, and films do we select to share with our friends and coworkers that actually reflect what it is that makes up our reality, as opposed to merely being an echo of the status quo and the beliefs that are most often held?
Third Essential Point: One and the Same Message Can Be Comprehended in Numerous Ways, Depending on the Audience
“If the media gives us much of the material upon which we build our picture of reality, then each of us finds or “negotiates” meaning according to individual factors: personal needs and anxieties, the pleasures or troubles of the day, racial and sexual attitudes, family and cultural background, moral standpoint, and so on.” “If the media gives us much of the material upon which we build our picture of reality, then each of us finds or “negotiates” meaning according to individual factors.” — Medialit.org
Key Concept #3: Different Audience, Different Understanding of the Same Message
How well do we take into account the variety of people who might view the stuff that we post online? Who are some of the potential unintended audiences? How may this audience grow over time to include new people, such as possible friends, coworkers, employers, or significant others? We have all heard the stories about young people and adults who aren’t paying attention putting stuff online that gets them in problems with potential jobs, college admissions officers, or the law.
Even if we assume that the communications are one-on-one and private, we tend to forget that the content of our websites can easily be shared with people who are not in the intended audience. We also run the risk of forgetting that something that one person finds amusing or unremarkable may strike another person’s sensitive nerve. We should not be afraid to post anything that has the potential to be contentious or controversial; but, we should take the time to evaluate the various interpretations and repercussions that lay beyond our intentions and assumptions about our audience before doing so.
Key Concept #5: Media Messages Embed Points of View
Important Idea No. 4: Commercial Consequences Can Result From Media Messages
“The goal of promoting media literacy is to increase understanding of the ways in which the media are impacted by commercial considerations and the ways in which these considerations have an impact on content, method, and distribution. The vast majority of media creation takes the form of a business and, as such, is expected to generate revenue. Questions pertaining to ownership and control are of the utmost importance: “What we watch, read, and hear in the media is controlled by a relatively small number of individuals.” — Medialit.org
Since 1987, unfortunately, not much has changed in this regard. In point of fact, ownership of media outlets has gotten more centralised. Although the number of people who govern what we see in the media has grown to include those in our social networks, a small number of media companies control the majority of the news that we hear about the globe. After that, we might publish this material online, so acting as distributors of information that is inaccurate or deceptive.
The vast majority of the content that we create is published and disseminated without incurring any financial cost; nonetheless, there is a cost associated with our usage of so-called “free” services. The entirety of the stuff that we publish on the internet is being compiled into a profile of us as prospective clients. A significant portion of what we share and post about friends and community members who are part of our social network has the potential to implicate them in a commercial framework, most of the time without their consent. What we choose to publish about our community and about ourselves should take into account the reality that internet media is supported financially by advertisers.
Additionally, the current threat to internet neutrality has brought the issue of media ownership back to the forefront. If certain businesses are able to decide which websites receive faster service or are even seen at all based on their ability to pay large fees, then a significant portion of what we share may be censored or limited depending on whether or not it satisfies the requirements of our Internet service provider. Not only does ownership of media decide which forms of media we are able to access or not view, but it also dictates what an average user is able to post and say online as well as to whom they can say it.
Key Idea No. 5: Points of View Are Incorporated Into Media Messages
“Every piece of media that is produced is, in some way, a commercial that proclaims certain values and ways of life. Whether overtly or covertly, the mainstream media spreads ideological ideas regarding topics such as the nature of the good life, the value of consumerism, the role of women, the submission to authority, and uncritical patriotism. — Medialit.org
How are we developing a message about what is desirable and valuable in the world when we upload vacation photos instead of images from our less regular routines of life? What are the unsaid messages that we are constructing about the wealth and the opportunity that are for some but not for others? How are we using the media to “edit out” things that are unwanted about our society and our lives, and how are we using the media to feature only things that are photogenic or that appeal to the lowest common denominator? How frequently do we go against the popular opinion of individuals who we think of as our audience, even when we have opinions that are in direct opposition to that common opinion?
The criteria for judging content have not changed despite the dramatic shifts that have occurred in the media ecosystem. Everyone and every organisation, no matter how big or how small, should view the world through the same critical lens that holds those who create and distribute media accountable for their actions.