We are all imperfect when it comes to media literacy – let’s acknowledge it
Media literacy – the practice of critically evaluating all types of media and understanding how they shape our lives – is a learned skill that no one can expect to be used perfectly at all times.
With the rapidly evolving algorithms of social media using clickbait grabbing our attention, it is critical that we initiate a broader cultural discussion about how we are all vulnerable and imperfect media users.
Participating in a widespread dialogue that it is impossible to critically examine every experience on our screens will not only make the internet safer, healthier, and more productive, but will also help further isolate the stigma attached to those who do inadvertently believing in misinformation on the internet, further isolated.
No one regardless of age, class or level of education is a flawless Internet user. Even millennials and Generation Z – understandably referred to as “digital natives” – are not immune to the dangers of online misinformation.
While proper media literacy education and technology updates can improve the impact of our screen time on us, the change we need is to spread and experience the widespread recognition and discussion about our vulnerability to ingestion of misinformation.
The deliberately sleek, uniform, and calming design of the social media user experience creates the perfect environment for indistinguishably blending facts, opinions, and malicious lies.
Since we subconsciously ingest information as we scroll for hours, it is an unattainable task to consistently maintain the “you cannot believe everything you read” mindset.
Much like our culture collectively discussing how our romantic life can be difficult, chaotic, and imperfect, we should also address the clutter and difficulties of our imperfect digital life. Likewise, we should discuss it without shaming the challenges of constant media exposure.
Thanks to internet culture, the powerful contradiction of discussing the difficulties of the social media experience with these social media can create real change.
In online communities on the subject of “body positivity”, for example, the dangers of misinformation in social media that affect our health and body perception are discussed. This mass cultural discussion has pushed critical thoughts about online body representation into our collective consciousness, affecting our consumer experiences, our self-perception, and the development of our broader culture.
The ever-evolving algorithms that determine our online life are ingeniously manipulating our perception of the truth. Our most tangible mistake is not admitting that we can’t constantly think critically about it as we scroll through our apps.
Let’s talk about it – online and offline.
Lauren Thomas is a fourth year film and media scholar and podcast coordinator for the journal.