Dawn of Technology
There’s no denying that we are now in the mature stages of the digital age. And because of Moore’s Law that states technology will double every two years, who knows how far we will be in the not too distant future. At the beginning of the millennium, many were still apprehensive about surfing the world wide web and didn’t see the benefits of a digital experience. Now, my 70-year-old mother spends more hours on YouTube than I do. That’s how far we’ve come. And we’ve all had our own personal stories with the switch from an analog system to a digital one. Whether that be sending your first email, online banking or painting with a digital tablet. But now as we become more entrenched in technology, we want to be sure that we have the right access, training, and attitude when dealing with new technologies so that our community stays at the forefront of this ever-changing environment.
What is Media Literacy
Media literacy is defined as the ability to access, evaluate and create media. Everyone is apart of the A/V (Audio Visual) club now because we all have at our fingertips a tool to take photos, shoot video, record audio and distribute media anywhere in the world. This has given us tremendous power because of our ability to now control information. One of the best ways I heard it describe was from LLCool J on the podcast ‘Drink Champs’ where he says it’s as if everyone in the stands was watching a professional basketball game was all of a sudden thrown the ball and asked to now play. This democratization of communication channels has made it easier to reach people because of the little need for gatekeepers. However, when it comes to creating media, we’re learning many don’t even know how to shoot or dribble. That’s one of the reasons why I created this site, to help us learn to shoot and dribble. Because we know the effects of misused images and sounds can have on a culture.
Media and Millennials
However, there’s good news for the next generation. “Black Millennials are leading the way in their use of technology to impact change and get their voices heard,” says Cheryl Grace (née Pearson-McNeil), Senior Vice President, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement. Take for example social media influencers who are finding cool new ways to use media to paint different shades of the black experience. This is something our community has been struggling with for years. And their influence is undeniable as their inspiring others to show that this medium is more accessible. I believe this is causing the next generation to think differently about how they consume and share information. Where the older generation is struggling to connect due to the digital gap, the youth uses it as their first means of communication. What we need is to continue encouraging the education of media arts in schools and with community programs so that the youth is not just consuming media but creating it as well. This will help them with critical thinking and being able to evaluate information around them. It excites me to think about what some kid is creating in his bedroom that will oneday change the world.
Empowerment of Media Literacy
Technology has affected every industry in our modern society. And the ones who adapt to it the fastest will have a competitive advantage. If you own a business or brand, understanding media will be the new standard for communication. This is true whether you’re making a meme, short film or taking photos at the company Christmas party. We need to become literate in things such as file sizes, screen resolutions, video editing and the difference between raster and vector graphics. This is similar to how we learned to construct sentences and know the difference between nouns and pronouns. Because it’s all a language. And although mediums change, it doesn’t mean messages have to. Yes, there’s always a concern of an oversaturated media space. However, it’s the Wild Wild West and there’s enough room on the playground for everyone. But at least we’re now in the game. This participation will empower us to decipher truths, ask questions and challenge norms. Because knowledge is power and we want to become active givers and not just passive receivers of that knowledge.
So in closing, we ask what is next on the horizon of media and are we in the right space to contribute? Because we need more voices and perspectives from the black community. We also need to be able to understand many different types of media: From video games, apps, podcast, social media platforms and video. This way we can create and distribute our own messages. Because we can no longer have excuses, no matter what level you’re at in your media literacy.