More holistic approach to media influence

     Yesterday’s presentation on transnational media (like Univision and the telenovela) and gaming (like Fandom) as alternative “re-imagined” communities got me thinking. I found myself wincing while the spokeswoman described the virtual game, “Eva” and even wondered, what type of people live their real lives vicariously through these games? But then came the trailer viewing of the telenovela. It could be because I speak Spanish, or merely because the drama has a “universalist” appeal, as described by Emily. Either way, I can see how these types of programs have an “escapist” quality that Diaspora and non-Diaspora populations alike can enjoy.

     However, what determines which media affects us and how? Powers and Nawawy’s article did a fantastic job unpacking some of the multiple factors that determine what and to which degree the media impacts how we perceive the world and global issues. In their analysis of Al Jazeera and other global news networks like BBC and CNNI, the theorists found strong evidence that, “viewers choose global news media based on their pre-existing ideological and political orientations, and that their viewing of particular news media is likely to reinforce their opinions [rather than inform them]”(280). Moreover, media system dependency theory is introduced as another factor determining media influence based on the scarcity or exclusivity of an individual’s information resources (279).

      Besides underlining the natural biases that occur when choosing media sources and how environmental factors contribute to the quantity of (or lack thereof) media choices, Powers and Nawawy also account for the cognitive differences in how information is processed once media is consumed. For example, viewers are better able to process information that is contradicting to their existing beliefs if they have lower levels of dogmatism, or cognitive organization of beliefs and disbeliefs about reality (275). Ultimately, it is a holistic combination of environmental factors, natural biases and cognitive constitution that determine what types of media we consume and how much influence it will have on our perception of reality.

      In the case of the “reimagined communities” that my class-mates presented about yesterday, do these factors prove to be true, as well? What are some of the psychological factors that make an individual more likely to lose themselves in virtual games, living a more committed existence in a game than in reality? If I had the time, I’d like to research the gaming community and begin looking at some of these psychological factors that render individuals more or less likely to live an existence through games or reality.

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One Comment to “More holistic approach to media influence”

  1. I agree with you about asking the question: “What are some psychological factors that make an individual more likely to lose themselves in virtual games, living a more committed existence in a game than in reality?” This is definitely something worth pursuing for a research paper. Some people feel that they can express themselves more online than in person. I am not sure if you have seen that commercial about HP laptops. They were advertising to sell their laptops. The story goes as one boy meets a girl online. They agreed to meet for their 1st date at a coffee shop. They meet at a coffee shop and exchange awkward glances. They sit down at a table awkwardly and did not really ignite up a conversation. All of the sudden, the girl asked the boy if he brought his laptop. He replied, yes. The both of them pulled out their HP laptops and started to communicate through the same way as they communicated before meeting in person. They began talking non stop online. I think that is a cute commercial to advertise the laptop company, but what is the underlying message? The boy connected with the girl online, not in person. Seriously? That loses the sense of interacting in person.
    In addition for the psychological factors part, I had a friend who was so fascinated with the World War Craft game. He stayed in his room all the time. It was during his first semester as a freshman. He did not even leave his room. He ordered food to be delivered. It was not until months that I saw him again. He gained like 20 pounds. He had dark circles under his eyes. And he broke up with his girlfriend. The game took a toll on him. He failed all of his courses because he never showed up. It is amazing to see how that simple game really absorbed a person’s life away. He realized that he was too addicted. The most challenging thing he faced was selling his World War Craft game to someone else and transferring to a new school. He wanted to have a fresh start. Now, he is a junior at Rochester Institute of Technology and is happily dating one girl. Oh, and he also lost that 20 pounds, and a bit more. He finds himself more active when he is not playing that game. So, yes I do agree that virtual games do take a toll on psychological factors. I do wonder if it can be prevented some how?

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