A guest blog article by Audrey Ann Harjung (woman of God, student, world citizen)
Media and family are two entirely different institutions that should have never been intertwined.
Media is so open and racy and brings everything, all the dirty little secrets and skeletons in one’s closet, out for the whole world to scrutinize. Before media was so popular, most things concerning the family were kept very private and secretive. No one really knew what was going on in anyone else’s lives. Obviously if there was a scandal of sorts, the community would hear about it by word of mouth – then sweep it under some invisible rug to disappear.
But now, because of the media, especially the Internet, the whole world will know about a scandal by morning – and it won’t disappear. Everyone will be talking about it, it will be on the cover of all the newspaper and the first topic in the news on the television. When family is concerned, the media should have nothing to do with it. It simply is not right that the media gets to decide when a family matter will become a public matter.
Another reason that media and family should not interfere with each other is because of the way in which media portrays family, or what a family should like look. Recently it has gotten a little better, showing families of mixed races/ethnicities, showing families with adopted children or foster children, even showing families with same sex parents. But in decades prior to this, all of these families would have been seen as families that are not of the “norm” or are not “perfect” or up to societies standards of what a family should look like. That is one positive, the progress of different types of families being portrayed in the media more and more.
Before it was negative portrayals for anyone who was not a middle-class white American, born and raised within the same family having religious, heterosexual parents that would never dream of getting divorced or so much as arguing in front of their children, that are of only their own blood. Obviously this is not how every family was, say back in the 1950s, but that was how every family was portrayed. And it was everywhere within the media, always hinting that this is how your family should be, and if it is not, then shame on you for failing at raising the perfect family as presented in American society.
Honestly, we are not even fully aware of the effects that media has had on the institution of family, and vice versa. We should look more closely at the way we are treating the media, and how much of it we are buying into. Maybe even look at what we can do that would change the media on a grand scheme, because we need to think of our society as a whole and not just ourselves for a change.
The impact of the media on the family is so negative and toxic, that something needs to be done – like now.
But, no matter how you cut it, the media spreads news like a wildfire spreads in the forest. It is unstoppable and relentless. And when family is brought into the media, for the public to view and judge and comment on, when it is really none of their business, it creates feelings in the members of the family, which might not have been there in the first place. It is embarrassing and rude and wrong that as a society we have for so long given in to the temptation to seek out and to know another family’s business.
We should be worried about our own families, rather than always worrying about what that other family is up to.