If “dia” is Spanish for “day”, can “media” mean “me-today”? I’ll be here all week.

March 23, 2012

“Medium” has negative connotations in multiple ways. It’s not great, it’s not awful, it’s in the middle, and things in the middle tend not to elicit response either way. In the context of communication, a medium is simply a means to an end, a way to convey information. Our world is saturated with media and fora (O Latin plurals, let me count the ways!) through which we talk with, or at, one another.

A reason I struggle with gravitating toward pursuing being a “medium” is because it’s not the catalyst for changing anything. The ever-wise Billy Crystal from the cinematic tour de force When Harry Met Sally had a line toward Meg Ryan’s aspiring journalist character: “So you’re going to write about what happens to other people?” This sort of attitude has kind of stuck with me (damn you, Crystal!) and made me feel as though working toward being a medium is side-stepping actual work and goals.

The evolution of humans into our modern state relied primarily on our ability to manipulate materials of the earth into tools, which contributed to us achieving our ends. Everything in our world needs a tool or a medium to make itself work, whether it’s light, sound, or ideas.

I would’ve utterly failed as a town crier. My voice has a range of about a foot in a crowded room. That’s not really my best medium to communicate anything. But writing is a tool that I’m probably best trained how to use…one day I’ll learn about power tools, but maybe those should remain other people’s media.

The thing to be careful of is people thinking of themselves only as media. This crops up so much in social media and development activism, where a person initiating action has to also be a medium in order to get their mission out. Quality often gets lost in quantity of information or people spreading information; depth gets sacrificed for breadth and ease of access (yeah, I’m looking at you, Kony2012 Facebook campaign). If people were motivated to learn more about an issue through reading one article or watching one video, then great! But if it just gets reposted, even a thousand times, the people who really run our world could care less.

So, there’s a balance to find, between the quantity and quality of media in the world. I’d like to work on finding that balance, and would love to encourage any sort of conversation about it. For now, I’m working with The White House Project and contributing to their blog on Tumblr, and would also love to hear feedback about that. Basically, I just enjoy reading about or experiencing issues and writing about them (damn you, College!), which is what I’ll aim for with this personal blog. So let the critical-thinking post-grad fun begin!

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