How to Balance Your Media Diet
By: Denise Liu
Humanity is driven, fed, and led by ideas just like food. However, our ideas might even be more powerful than foods because people are willing to go to great lengths just because of the abstract of the ideas we hold. The desire and hunger for these ideas estimate the current condition in our economy. Society, and community. When individuals have control over what they consume they feel happier because we become strongly biased towards feelings we control compared to when we aren't in control of what's going on around us, we tend to get depressed. Knowing this in terms of food we tend to stress eat caused by the difficulty in controlling ourselves in the face of abundance. This means that the media needs to ever increase the amount of time you spend consuming it. This happens by feeding the general population with whatever will keep us engaged, enraged, or just to have our attention captured. The media we consume has an influence on the ideas we consume and the ideas we present
The Media Pyramid Explained
Red: Info-toxication (Media that brokers in falsehoods)
This is the media that makes you believe things that aren't true will put inaccurate ideas into your head because it can distort your understanding of the world and your surroundings. Propaganda is bad for you since by definition it makes you think incorrectly about the world, regardless of political orientation, and has been shown to polarize discourse and radicalize readers. Just like the ongoing pandemic, this false information creates an unending sense of urgency, which is linked to various anxieties and other more dramatic issues.
Orange: Consumption (Media that is passively grazed such as through an algorithmic or broadcast stream)
Lots of unhappiness has been heavily correlated with the consumption of social media, especially mobile users. These algorithms can favor falsehood over truth and can make it harder to distinguish between the two. As well any algorithmic editorial function can be manipulated by hackers and social engineers. More than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue, or sleep loss as a result. Even though social media usage may make us feel worse, we still seem to be hard-wired to seek out new news and the current environment that makes us anxious. The human brain is wired to pay attention to information that scares or unsettles us. Due to confirmation and negativity bias and a host of other manipulated heuristics, such as our need to belong to a tribe, we tend to be drawn to these preceding types of content.
Yellow: Interaction (Media that allows for or requires interpersonal communications)
Communicating and private interpersonal communication have been shown to make us feel better, regardless of the platform. So broadcast grazing of different types appears in different levels because consuming a varied stream is better than eating news all day and provides you with some interaction with the world.
Blue: Participation (Media in which one chooses specific content to consume or is otherwise actively engaged in the content)
Choosing content is more satisfying than being fed it, but we are predisposed to binge, especially when life seems stressful. Beyond engagement, there is also a course of active media production, which is part of normal everyday media consumption now (selfies and selfie culture can negatively impact self-image and mental health). Active creation and active interpersonal communication, on social platforms or elsewhere, correlates to better mood and reported satisfaction
Brown: Edification (Media which increases our moral and intellectual capabilities)
This is Content, where we learn something, and tend to make us feel happier if we think we learned something useful. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connecting with others too.
Green: Actualization (Media in which we seek our best selves)
Cultural values encoded in both this idea that art improves us, the idea of high and low culture, and challenges of access to the arts, and so on. There are no negative side effects to any of these green activities. These green activities consist of concerts, music, art, friends, tv, etc.
The pyramid is designed to help us be mindful of the media we consume not to be absolutely accurate. It is a useful exercise to provide some nuance to the polarized and naïve binary that typifies the current discourse, that social media is "bad" or that "television makes you stupid". We tend to significantly underestimate the consumption of mobile and let our attention be allocated for use in a variety of ways. If you don't consciously choose how to allocate your attention, it will be allocated for you, by entities whose objectives are not your own