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Thoughtful and reflective consumers of mass media

Do you as a consumer of mass media really think or reflect about what you just read or saw?  Do you criticize, analyse or even defend what you have read or seen in the media or have we come to a point where we just take in everything without really thinking twice about it?  This was a debate we had in our first year Journalism class at The Polytechnic of Namibia.

Before you answer this question, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “What does it take to be a thoughtful and reflective consumer of mass media? Some people may argue a person needs to be educated, mature and level headed etc, to really grasp what they are reading or seeing and even to read between the lines. I disagree. I believe it all depends on the environment that you grow up in.  Every child should be taught how to think for themselves and question things that they hear, read or see. The rest of the traits they can acquire later in life.
One of my class mates argued that the media should minimize their reporting on “passion killings” because it influences men to do the same if they find themselves having a problem with their girlfriends or wives.  Do Namibian men really think like that? I would expect such thinking from a child, not even a teenager. If this is the case Namibia has a very, very long way to go to be able to analyse and really think about what we see or read in the media. Reading or seeing stories about “passion killings” in newspapers should actually make a men want to make a difference in the lives of his mother, sisters, girlfriend or wife, not add to the problem.
How can a person decide to drive like a maniac, and put the lives of other road users in danger on the streets of Windhoek after watching the movie “Fast and Furious 6”. Whats is the logic in that, because you saw it in a movie, now you think it the cool thing to do. No my friend you will die!!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I don’t sometimes just watch or read a report in the media and just believe it without really thinking about it. I am also a culprit in consuming mass media in an ignorant way. That is why I am starting to train my brain to really read between the lines, especially if the information I get is dodgy.
We may have a platform to engage with the media to air our views, but do we make valid points? Most of us really do not have the knowledge to make a real contribution or real impact. We waste the opportunity (to complain) and just don’t get to the root of the problem.  It is argued that there is an elite group who really think about and analyse what they see or read in the media. You will always see an opinion piece that they have written at least once a week in newspaper or see them discussing issues in Namibia on the TV.
Am not saying that we should take everything we see or read seriously, there are times when you just want to watch a movie or read a funny article without really wrecking your brain to understand what it means. There are times you just want to relax and enjoy the information you are receiving and not really think about it. Yes that’s acceptable, but we can not run away from the issues that are affecting this country and try to live in a cocoon. Sooner or later there is going to be an issue that touches or affects you, so now is the time to prepare and coach your mind to tackle these issue thoughtfully and reflectively, and not just jump to conclusions that might get you into trouble or make you look like an idiot.
But it wont solve the issue if we just point fingers and say “ja” we need to change as Namibians but not do anything about it. Just remember, if you think your are pointing a finger at another person, there are three pointing back at you.


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