Who are we?

Jun 30, 2009

Who are we if we are not our media?


Questions of personal identity are always fraught with problems without even bringing national identity into the discussion.

If we think critically about the coverage of Iran's recent election, I feel that we would find that social media (twitter, facebook,etc.) became the story and altered our sense of the situation in Iran. Check out the a social media timeline of events:  http://mashable.com/2009/06/21/iran-election-timeline/ 

From the media coverage it would appear that nationally all of Iran was up in arms over the current election.  A disparity become evident when you consider that despite the enormous natural resources of Iran,  the Iranian economy is in the toilet.  The faces and voices that have appeared on the US news have been fasly represented as the majority of the population.  In acuallity, all of the English speaking, electronic device owners represent a distinct minority of the population.  Much of Iran exists in a greater level of poverty and the opinion and voices of those people were not represented on news broadcasts since they lacked technological link to the American news media.

In America, due to the images broadcast by the news media, popular sentemant over the protests made people call for this to be used as an opportunity to spin the EU in action.  For reasons unknown to mainstream America, they balked. This was due to Europe's ability to see through the transparent, one sided, representation from news media.  What is scary is that outside involvement brought due to the new coverage could have worked though. With an insular country such as Iran a few media savvy groups could theoretically bring down a government with their images and web presence. If we were not fighting two wars currently, it is not out of our character to use such images a pretext  for an invasion. 

How then do we teach our children to see through the hype as the Europeans did? Our identity as consumers seems to be the meeting point of our personal identities and our nation identity. As this is largely controlled by the media, how are we to address this in our classrooms?

I am of the opinion that I as a teacher should be a merciless skeptic of any and all messages, modelling methods of dissecting any communication for possible hidden meaning. This may be seen by some as unduly influencing my students but I offer no quarter to my own pet belief: global warming, socialism and such.

What do you think?
Check out the link to this lesson about Listerine: Miracle Liquid or Product in Search of a Purpose?


  "magritte 3" by aldoaldoz


Hi Charlie,While I was

mwhitehouse's picture
Submitted by mwhitehouse on Wed, 2009-07-01 13:47.

Hi Charlie,

While I was intrigued with the idea of a nation being both reflected by and a reflection of its media, I was interested in another sentence you wrote as well.  "How then do we teach our children to think as Europeans do?"

Europeans, like Americans, are not a monolithic group.  Moreover as history reveals much of the discord in the world today can be traced back to European colonialism/imperialsim.  Isn't thinking like a European what gets America into trouble?

Shouldn't we be thinking

wdhaverstock's picture
Submitted by wdhaverstock on Wed, 2009-07-01 14:15.

Shouldn't we be thinking more like cats and dogs?  Dogs, by the way, are good; cats are evil.

I've used it for dandruff

wdhaverstock's picture
Submitted by wdhaverstock on Wed, 2009-07-01 14:14.

I've used it for dandruff with positive results.  But Never put it into your mouth.

I must admit I was a bit

Submitted by Feliciag on Wed, 2009-07-01 15:31.

I must admit I was a bit confused by your equating our identity with consumerism.  I would like to think that I'm much more than what the marketer things of me.  But what stood out for me is the claim that you are always looking for the "possible hidden meaning."  Aren't we always looking for the meaning whether it is meant to be clear and visible or not?  Meaning, truth is what drives our desire to learn.