February 20, 2010

Media Madness Culture Shock

Culture Shock-- Post Three on Media Madness

After five continuous years working in India, I was visiting my relatives. I sat down with my father-in-law to watch the evening news. Some minutes into the broadcast, I looked over to the doorway and saw my five year-old daughter, her eyes round and mouth agape-- in shock; she looked almost faint.

She wasn't prepared for the flood of violent sights and sounds being presented as news.

I loved India and was, I believe, amazed by something each and every day I was there-- with no shortage of harsh realities. Along with the good, we also experienced the rioting/massacres that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984, and then were in Bhopal at the time of the Union Carbide gas tragedy that same year. We were often assailed by beggars, some of whom had been intentionally deformed to increase their income, yet we'd done what we could to shield our children.

I was caught off guard by this unvarnished violence and conflict presented as entertainment from the nicely dressed gentleman in the box. As the evening proceeded and other shows offered up sarcasm or crude humor, perhaps blended with some wit and beauty-- even the older ones turned to me with looks of surprise, questioning, 'Is this okay?

I honestly didn't-- and don't-- know the answer-- or answers-- not only for them, but for myself as well. Besides television, there were video games, then on-line games, movies, and the media stream kept growing-- Now we have broadband!

I think the best answer I heard anyone give was to measure our media intake, not by, 'Is it bad for us?', but by, 'Is it good for us?'

In the next post I will introduce to you, 'The Stranger'.

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