It’s one thing to believe something. It’s another thing entirely to direct that belief into a campaign of action. The Media Awareness Project was born out of the simple idea that media is evolving at such a rapid pace that it is now more critical than ever that young people in this country become aware of the messages that media delivers and more important, become aware of their own power in relation to media.
In and of itself, media is neither good or bad. It’s a human tendency I think to ascribe an emotional attachment to things like this. There are throngs of people who throw up their hands and eviscerate the media for its depictions of women, people of color, moral values and the like. There are an equally growing number of people who are learning to use media to shape very important discussions in this country about politics, morality and the potential for human good. Whichever side you may come down on, the fact is that you can find plenty of evidence to support you. But at the end of the day, media just is, and it isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the emerging trends of social media in the past several years, have added new dimensions to these conversations.
At MAP, we take the position that it is a human being’s responsibility to critically analyze the media they consume. This is a daunting task for even the most committed of us. We are bombarded with media at every turn. It’s time-consuming to develop a healthy relationship with that media. And, it requires a willingness to stay present for the many messages media sends and to ask ourselves what they tell us, and whether that information is a positive thing that we want to embrace.
But for young people, the task is beyond daunting. Today’s children are living the wild west of media, and in many ways, it is a world without a floor. Kids today participate in streams of media that their parents, educators and leaders, are often inexperienced with and overwhelmed by. The result of this is that they consume media in an environment where they pick a side (often unknowingly.) Will they be Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp? Will they see and use media to feed their empowerment and education or will they be sucked into the tragedy of being sold something that is fabricated in a vacuum full of stereotypes, misinformation and intellectual sewage?
The vision of MAP is that all children have a right and a responsibility to be educated consumers of media, and that the future of these kids will in many ways depend on the choices they make.