Human beings need answers. What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death? We are never satisfied with the unknown, the uncertain and the inexplicable. Which brings us to the fundamental question this week- who is to blame? The media has become a scapegoat for incongruous human actions. We refuse to attribute destructive actions to human nature. And so we search for a logical answer. The media effects model perpetuates the myth that media has direct effects on audiences and causes certain behaviours. However this model contains multiple inconsistencies.
Let’s use violence as an example. During a midnight screening of the Dark Knight in Colorado in July last year, a gunman fired multiple shots into the audience, killing 12 people and injuring 58. An article published in USA today (1), stated “saturation coverage” caused by “24-7 media exposure” of similar incidents was to blame for encouraging the crime. Already we see an inherent flaw in the system. As David Gauntlet points out in his article 10 things wrong with the effects model “the media effects approach is backwards…starting with the media and then trying to lasso connections from there…”
By accrediting the massacre to a fault of the media, commentators are jumping the gun (excuse the pun). The media effects model is one of assumption and generalisation in relation to causality. Violence on TV leads to violent acts in everyday life. Commentators neglect to ‘dig deeper’. If we analyse the social background of the killer, we may find an alternate explanation e.g. poverty, neglect, bullying. But we refuse to accept a glitch in human nature so we point the finger elsewhere.
An interesting thought to leave you with– it may be true that as we increasingly immerse ourselves in media, our fates seem intrinsically bound. Yet to an extent we are still in control of what the media presents. Does this not mean that a fault in the media will translate to a fault in human nature?