Posted by: carolbcarolb | October 16, 2011

Hot, cold, or just lukewarm?

After getting over the devastating realization that, as a matron, nobody would be influenced by my interest in fashion…  😉 …  This week’s reading made me think about where I get my political information from and what I may not have exposure to based on media agenda setting.

The mid-1950s article said that the two-step flow of communication hypothesis is the flowing of ideas from media to opinion leaders and then from opinion leaders out to those that they influence. It doesn’t seem too much different today, but it is definitely more complicated, with more stops and loops along the way.

Of course opinion leaders are more interested in politics and have higher exposure to media, their quest for knowledge and interest in these topics make them seek this info out. The opinion leaders of today have a greater avenue for expressing/transmitting their opinions to the population. Whereas in the mid-century, opinion leaders main methods would be face to face communication, today, with the internet, they can reach hundreds, even thousands through blogs, websites, etc. And it would seem that one of the new loops would be the media (and politicians) paying attention to what these opinion leaders are saying.

McLuhan made my brain spin (have I become that provincial in my thinking in the years since undergrad school?), but after reading it about 4 times, I started to “dig it.” I found the discussion of whether the world could be automatically controlled by changing the amount of exposure to hot and cold media based on whether it was to a hot or cold population really fascinating. This also struck me: that in our “electric time” the “effect of electric technology has at first been anxiety, now it appears to create boredom.”

If opinion leaders get their information from the media and share it with those with lower interest levels in order to shape their opinion, then who is telling the media what to report out to us? The media is where most of us get our information about politics, so even if you are an opinion leader, you are basing your opinions on what you learn from the media, who has set the agenda, deciding what issues you will pay attention to. The press basically tells us what to think about. The vast majority of us don’t have alternative means of finding out political information. 

***

Has all the new technology and fast pace of our “electric time” caused anxiety in you? (I hear people say they are addicted to information or are “news junkies” because they can be connected to so many sources of news 24/7.) 

Has all the new technology and fast pace of our “electric time” caused boredom in you? (There is there so much coming at us at such a fast pace, do we consume and then get bored really quickly, waiting for the next new, exciting, shiny, thing to come along?)

What do you think about the media setting the agenda for what we pay attention to in politics? You can get info from opinion leaders, bloggers and others, but didn’t what they are talking about stem first from the media too? In our technological, and some say personally disconnected society, is there really any other alternative than the media setting the political news agendas for us?

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