Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ethicks and Under-standing

Media ethics and media literacy are two of the most difficult subjects to capture in any venue. First off, there are a plethora of interpretations of the meanings of both, and none of them are right or wrong--entirely.

"Ethics" implies morality. When combined with the ambiguousness of "media," there is a thickness that pervades. The issue that seems to be the thickest of all is that of how new media and social media is affecting the relay of information. There is no sense of privacy anymore for anyone. Some feel threatened by this, and others liberated. When it comes down to it, if the result negatively affects *you* it's going to be unpleasant...and criticized. Ethics are relative, and therefore controversial. If we are in search of the truth as it pertains to the world and people around us, then why should we be ashamed of our own?

This leads us to the issue of "media literacy"--another monster of a term that has an incredible reach in terms of how it could be construed. In a very generic sense, you could say media literacy is being able to "understand" media--the content, reason, motive, etc. If we use media "understanding" as a definition for literacy, I would argue that there is no such thing. We are constantly in a state of "under"-standing; always situated somewhere below, not quite at full height..and not always "standing" up to see what is going on from other angles.

In both of these cases, I'm not entirely sure there is a way for media ethics or media literacy to have definable ideals. There's no way to honestly quantify their virtuousness or efficacy. Perhaps they are both processes by which we are constantly moving toward a better sense of ourselves and the world around us, but I question our definitions of morality and literacy altogether.

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