How Does Literature and Media Influence Your Lifeand the World In Which You Live?

Welcome to the beginning of your journey.  Although most of you have already started the trip, you just havenít fully realized it yet.  You live within this trip; you experience it with every waking moment and every action and reaction you experience within life.  I want to expand your perception of this trip and show you what influences it, constructs it, molds it into the guiding force of life. 

           We are experiencing life living within the realm of an all-encompassing image culture.  Have we evolved from the seemingly primitive life based on oral tradition, or the literate culture we seem to quickly be leaving behind?  Or have these deviations from past cultures proven to be our ultimate demise?  After studying the works of such authors as Hobart & Schiffman, John Berger, Albert Borgmann, George Lakoff & Mark Johnson, and Stephen Frosh, one wonders where the future of our world lies.  Are we truly aware of the way our lives our constructed?  In what ways does our present culture, our technological advances, and the media shape who we are as individuals?  The before mentioned authors send readersí minds into a tail-spin as they prompt people to ask themselves the hard questions and watch as the answers seem to elusively hide in a world filled with cultural complexities.

            It is no secret to find that literature is a source of power.  It does influence, guide, and shape the people we become as we continue our journey through life.  Hence, since we are never without the influence of literature, we will always have factors working to modify the people we are.  However, it is our choice as to how we internalize what we are exposed to, and in turn, it is up to us to determine the individual that ultimately prevails. The Merchants of Cool (Neil Docherty) and Dreamworlds 2: desire/sex/power in music videos (Sut Jhally), are videos that allow us to watch this concept in action.  The impact that we see, however, is at times shocking, disturbing, and terrifying.  Does literature and the media actually control who we are and what we become?  As images of the scantily-clad, sex symbol Britney Spears appeared on the screen set against teenage girls putting on make-up and dressing to be ďjust like Britney,Ē the viewer realizes that in more ways than we would like to admit, we are defined by the media; it is what brings us into being or action. 

            The average individual rests his or her eyes on an estimated 3,000 discrete ads in one day.  With such a strong media force present within our lifeís journey, how can we claim to be uninfluenced? We canít.  Do we really know what message we are being sold, and at what price we are choosing to pay?  The media sells us an idea or an image; they sell us an ideology we are quick to attach ourselves to and, in essence, become.  Therefore, are we as humanís mere products of the cultural world within which we live?  Take a look around at what you see everyday and it becomes difficult to answer that question confidently either way. 

            We live in a world of constant consumption.  But, what it is that we are really buying?  I watch my friend as she eagerly searches through the latest J.Crew catalog the perfect outfit to wear.  She finds it, orders it, puts it on, and she hates it.  Why?  Purchasing that new outfit was an attempt to make her feel better, like a new woman.  Therefore, when she put it on and was still the same person, she was disappointed.  She was not simply buying the dress she saw on the page, she was buying the glamour, the feeling, and confidence.  She was buying a personal image. 

            This concept can be seen alive and well all around us.  Take Miami University students, for example.  Abercrombie clones roam the campus, $30,000 SUVís line the quaint college streets, and girls would not be caught dead carrying anything other than a Kate Spade or Prada purse.  How can we deny the product we have become, formed by the media within which we live?

            Literature and the media combined have a powerful impact on those who wish to truly realize and understand their message.  Study, read, learn, experience, feel, and know the culture of your present and those cultures of your past.  Only then can one understand the ideas of life and theory and how the two work together to help us better understand each other and ourselves. 

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