Week 10: Lindsey Newkirk

I have a slightly different consideration about ethics that came up for me as I wrapped up Spreadable Media and was thinking about the wide variety of content that I interact with on web 2.0.  I’ve been talking recently with friends about our increasingly limited capacity to deal with negative media.  I’m a true believer that the way in which we choose to see the world, the filters by which we allow information to penetrate our psyches, is what creates our realities.  When I engage heavily with negative news sources, I feel hopeless, cynical, overwhelmed. On the one hand I think that new media is a tremendous opportunity to expose hidden truths that have been hidden from the masses in order to give rise to social justice and democracy.  I think it’s important to keep abreast of important issues that affect our people and our planet so that we can be informed and engaged citizens.  For my own well-being, however I choose to interact mostly with positive sources of media while limiting my negative information.  I’ve been recently curious what the trends are for most participants in our digital culture; does content tend to be more negative or more positive and what does that do to how they see the world?

So my questions around ethics: According to a report in Psychology Today “not only are negatively balanced news broadcasts likely to make you sadder and more anxious, they are also likely to exacerbate your own personal worries and anxieties” (Psychology Today 2012).  If negatively balanced media has adverse results on the wellbeing of our society, do we, as communicators and participators, have an ethical duty to balance the scales in the emotional weight of our content?  To me it’s quite similar to companies that produce cigarettes and fast food for instance.  Their products are killing us.  Sure, we can say that it is the consumer’s responsibility to make informed decisions around what they consume. It can also be looked at as an business ethics issue?

Maybe this isn’t an industry ethical consideration; I’m just playing around with this idea.  It is however, definitely a personal ethics issue for myself as I think that the communication focused on inspiring stories, celebrating successes and creating new visions is what we need to cultivate as we navigate the collective co-creation of a better world.

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3 comments to Week 10: Lindsey Newkirk

  • awoodard@uoregon.edu

    I think with a lot of activism in particular, we can let our outrage develop into a message that sounds pessimistic…I remember I once read a psychology paper that speculated on how Al Gore-syle language around climate change might be scary enough to trigger the same sorts of denial impulses we rely on day-to-day to forget–mostly–about things that are super depressing (for example: do images of your imminent death cripple your ability to function? Thank you, terror management). Climate change is certainly weighty enough to warrant this sort of language, but in such cases I always fall on the side of pragmatism: what will actually help? Humor and optimism may seem to trivialize serious topics, but they also might WORK.

  • dereky@uoregon.edu

    I like your ideas. I also find myself staying away from the negative media, because as a teacher, I am often exposed to negativity daily. It is emotionally exhausting to deal with issues that make you feel helpless. I choose my media exposure carefully and I am okay with “living in a cave”, unaware of the current negative news events.

  • stiven8899

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