Why Is Media Important?
The contemporary communication tools known collectively as the media affect modern life in countless different ways. The media once used to comprise mainly newspapers, magazines, radio, and television; today, it's expanded to include social media, podcasts, streaming networks, blogs, and countless other online outlets.
Regardless of its source, the information people consume from the media, and how often they consume it, can have a profound impact on how they perceive themselves and the world around them. Increasingly, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter play a dominant role in many people's media consumption—leading researchers to wonder if social media may affect our well-being in new or potentially harmful ways. So far, however, research is inconclusive.
Still, in an increasingly plugged-in society, many people report feeling drowned by a flood of information. Many wish to find ways to rein in their own media use, but find that it can be difficult.
Strategies known collectively as "media literacy" can help. Ideally, a "literate" media user would learn to consume information judiciously, take breaks when needed, and employ tools to enhance their goals and complement their personality, rather than falling prey to feelings of jealousy or loneliness.
How Social Media Affects Society
For many people in the developed world, a large part of their takes place not in their immediate environments, but in the virtual worlds of Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media.
While social media has been a vital link for many who live far from sources of support like friends and family, psychologists have begun to express concern about research suggesting that rather than increasing connection, social media may, in fact, be making many people lonelier, less secure, and more isolated than before. Some psychologists have concluded social media use may be linked to increased rates of depression and suicide as well, though other researchers have countered such claims.
Social media has also come under fire for its role in increasing political polarization and for its willing or unwilling abetment of the spread of “fake news” around the world. But whatever the pros and cons of social media, most agree that it’s unlikely to go away any time soon.
Why We Care About Celebrities
Even those who don’t follow celebrity gossip usually can’t help but be a little enamored by the lives of actors, athletes, and even Instagram models. Though some devotees genuinely find celebrity lives interesting, many people are drawn to the rich and famous because they themselves crave wealth and notoriety.
Vicariously observing celebrity life may also be an attractive pastime because, from a distance, many famous people appear powerful, flawless, and above all, happy—which can serve as a distraction when one’s own real life is going poorly. But while many celebrities are undoubtedly satisfied with their lot in life, psychological research—and plenty of anecdotal evidence—make clear that fame and fortune don’t necessarily equate with contentment.
Some experts warn that focusing too much on celebrities can cause mental distress or decrease a follower’s satisfaction with their own life—to say nothing of the negative effects of the attention on the mental health of the rich and famous themselves.