Why you should love your media too

Do you love your media? You don’t know? Then please let me tell you about my media.

Media is a love-hate relationship I never knew I needed, that is until now. Accepting or not, my life has mostly (and subtly) intertwined with media. Public media, digital media, you name it, are all part of what shapes me into who I am now. Let’s start from the beginning. Actually, let’s start with why and how my relationship with media is complex.

I love it.

It’s easy to say, because I do, a lot. I was born into media. I was born in an era when media was widely accepted and almost a norm. It slipped into my life smoothly like how guys slide into girls’ DMs. “Don’t skip breakfast”, mom always told me that (she still does now). Now we know that notion came from an American cereal brand for their marketing campaign. But I have to admit it helps me with my eating disorder, since mom would occasionally call to check if I have had my breakfast, and so I cannot skip meals, starve myself, develop digestive issues,… (or that’s what I thought).

I’m literally 8874km away from my family. Imagine not being able to FaceTime or send iMessages and having to write letters, what an unwanted scene. Indeed, hate it or love it, media brings convenience and instantaneousness. I could be walking down the streets of Amsterdam, seeing a breathtaking building and calling family instantly to share the moment. They could be there (well, virtually) with me to witness, to feel and sympathise with me. How could that NOT be absolutely amazing?

Teenager, young adults, we don’t call and text messaging as often as we used to anymore. All can be done via social media. Friends can see my life today, what I eat, where I go, what I look like, how I feel,… It’s just that easy to connect. I’m not disclaiming physical interactions, but sometimes due to geographical distance, it’s sufficiently ideal to log into social media and communicate. Please, no prejudice.

I hate it.

Now this is where things take a turn (into the love-hate relationship). I mentioned my eating disorder above, which, funny enough, somewhat happened along with the introduction of social media to my life. I didn’t need to see pictures of celebrities to feel bad, influencers and even some of my friends’ photos alone can make me question my physical appearance. Quite frankly, I have been obsessed with food since I was a child. It was positive at first; I ate what I wanted, feeling the pure joy food brought to me. You guess it, I inevitably became a chubbier kid than most of my peers. After social media and during eating disorder, the obsession with food became my enemy. I either starved myself or stuffed myself with food, I thought about eating every second of my life. “OMG skinny legend”, “How can you eat that much and still look slim?” I was delighted to finally hear that. I degraded myself looking at others, I prided myself upon being called skinny, I indulged in the virtual recognition, that all happened on social media. Of course, had I used media more wisely, I wouldn’t have overcome that terrible time. But it is undeniable I was partially (or greatly) affected by media.

Some of my friends were the victims of cyberbullying. The platforms have the ability to sometimes take things too far. What started as a small argument became a fight of offending and insulting, so much so that their families got involved. It was certainly disappointing and hurtful to watch that happened. Stop hiding behind those keyboards and the computer screen, kids.

Platforms pick up, continue, and step up the trades of fame, money, and images, for the better or worse. Instagram becomes a tool for self-promotion; influencers promoting products (that they probably never use). Youtube fights between creators (James Charles and Tati, for example) are sometimes just an act that are put on to attract more attention and popularity. Tiktok is known for being the cradle of weird, inappropriate, and even dangerous trends (black-out challenge). Where do all of that lead to? Fame and money. What do they cost? Images, ethics, sometimes even physical health. I hate it when things like these continue to flourish, whereas my friends and family gradually adopting them. There are good content and bad content, yes, but the latter seems so overwhelming these days it’s hard to un-notice it.

But I cannot escape it.

Just like every love-hate, toxic, manipulative relationship, we don’t break up (that is, me and media). Ever noticed how there is a ME in MEdia? That’s how involved I probably am in this sphere of chaos. And I’m happy with it. I do hate it, and I was hurt by it, but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to embrace and understand it. Just like how relationships take time, I’ve got a lifetime of being in media to study it.

Do you love your media now?

Stacey Phan – 13884980


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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