Everyone knows that media influence is an issue, right? But, as I’ve discovered, it’s only when you experience the power of this influence first-hand amongst people you know and care about that it really hits home. And when it does hit, it hits hard.
Here’s what inspired this post. Story Time!
Please note: I am not attacking my friends by sharing this story. I love them all very much and do not blame them at all. It is the media that should be held responsible for this incident.
A couple of days ago I was hanging out with a group of friends – mixed ages, boys and girls. The boys were having a conversation and so the girls and I decided to wander over to see what they were talking about. It turned out that they were discussing what they look for more of in a partner – personality or looks? After laughing at them for having such a weird conversation we started listening and joining in.
It all got a bit technical when they started breaking it down into percentages. At first us girls were just laughing our heads off. It was so amusing, but then it became a bit more ‘interesting’. Much to our surprise most of the guys seemed more interested in girl’s looks than in their personality :0
One of them was like ‘oh, 100% looks, definitely’ and so one of the others asked him to describe what his perfect girlfriend would look like. To my shock and disappointment he started listing every single beauty stereotype that the media projects at us – blonde, skinny, etc. All the other boys agreed with him. These were kids I had spent my childhood with, boys I had grown up playing in the dirt with. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I admit I got a bit cross with them 😉 ‘Guys, come on’ I said ‘That’s such a messed up view! And plus, it’s not even your view, it’s what you’ve watched on TV, read or seen online, it’s not you. You’re being influenced, told what to think! Surely that’s not what you want? Your view of beauty should not be what a corrupt society has put into your head!” I didn’t say all of that in exactly those words because looking back now I am not so blinded by confusion and sadness and frustration, but I did rant on along similar lines.
Some of the boys’ reactions was defensiveness. “Oh, well, I did say I valued personality more”, one said. But what really shocked me was what one of my friends said. He looked at me, smiled and shrugged. “What’s the point of having a girlfriend if she’s not pretty?”
I felt like screaming. ‘You have no idea what you’re saying!” I thought. ‘You’re young and all around you that’s what people are telling you’ I just shook my head sadly and that was the end of the conversation.
However, that whole incident stayed in my thoughts for ages after that. It made me wonder what sort of a chance my generation have and how they’ll ever learn what’s right when they are constantly being told otherwise. It also made me think about my place in all this – I may have different opinions at the moment (due to the way I’ve been raised), but how long until this starts to affect me too?
For example, all of my friends (these same ones, but the girls too) are obsessed with the TV show Friends. Ok, ok, I know this is going to be controversial. I know Friends is widely loved, but hear me out, alright?
They keep trying to get me to watch it, gossiping about what episodes they’re on and squealing about the latest inappropriate stuff they’ve learned from it. That’s after they’ve whispered about spoilers, discussed each character in the finest detail and sobbed on each other’s shoulders because they only have two more seasons to go before they have to start re-watching episodes. Seriously, my eyes hurt from so much rolling.
But it really isn’t this that I have a problem with. I’m as much of a fangirl as anyone when it comes to favourite TV shows. I recently jumped up and down more than I’d care to admit when the trailer for Anne With An E Season 2 was released. Any fellow fans out there?
The thing that gets to me is the fact that the programmes I watch have positive messages, strong characters, great portrayals of real life relationships, as well as being amazingly entertaining! Whereas things like Friends are full of negativity, fakeness, inappropriateness and although they may make you laugh, if you think about it they’re just trash. Even when I ask my friends what’s good about Friends they struggle 😂
I have made the decision not to watch Friends – even though all of my friends are. In fact, I make the decision to think different and act differently just in general. This isn’t easy – I’m a teenager growing up in the same society we all live in after all, but hey ho, I’m giving it a go.
How about you?