Media, Internet, Mimesis & Hyperreality

The media heavily influences an individual’s daily life in many ways. People rely on the news to be knowledgeable regarding what is occurring both near and far from them. For example, when an individual is murdered in a neighborhood people within that neighborhood rely primarily on news to be aware of this information. The film and music industries are both billion-dollar industries as they both mediums are able to reach a range of audiences; therefore their success is enormous. Individuals listen to music that they feel appeals to them and their character and watch movies that may evoke various feelings within them. The Internet has become a major phenomenon and people worldwide rely on it for a variety of their everyday lives, such as researching, shopping, and various methods of communication. Internet and video game addictions are becoming more and more common, pushing the public to question the power of the media.

The study of Plato and Aristotle can be applied to the majority of the course material, as their ethical perspectives can be applied broadly. According to Plato, mimesis is a reproduction of something “…by holding up a mirror to nature.” Plato’s “couch” consisted of three pieces, beginning with God’s couch, which is considered the original piece. The second piece is the crafstman’s couch, which is once removed from reality and the truth, therefore this is not a creation; rather, it is an imitation of something else. The third piece is the artist or painter’s couch, which is twice removed from reality. As such, Plato does not consider this authentic knowledge. This is an aspect of media I had never recognized before therefore it was awakening to view media in this aspect. In my personal opinion Plato’s theory was both correct and incorrect when studying today’s media. Mimesis would be similar toadaptations, as they both involve the process of imitating a former medium. Although this may appear simple to many, the process of adaption is quite complicated. Through the process of adaptation, much of the original basic information is altered or lost. For example, events may be altered, characters may not be the same and the point of view it is portrayed in varies. With this information in mind, the adaptation does take its own form. There are generally three modes of storytelling across all media. These are the telling mode, the showing mode and the participatory mode. The telling mode can be books, magazines, poems, etc. Plays, movies and other visual forms would be showing mode. Lastly, video games, online games and other forms, which “immerse us physically as well as esthetically”, are considered to be participatory modes. Today’s media strongly relies on adapting former mediums in order to succeed, as the public may be familiar with these former mediums. For example, books are often made into extremely successful movies, which are then possibly made into video games or posters, bookmarks, binders, etc. This process of remediation is highly common in today’s media and is necessary for the media’s success.

One topic of debate throughout is the effect of video games on its participants. Prior to this research, I always believed that video games were addictive and should be avoided, especially when games involve violence, war, gangs, drugs or sexuality. As such, I never understood an individual’s desire to partake in this activity. On the contrary, I constantly asked that my younger brother and other friends did not play. After becoming familiar with Baudrillard, simulations, and hyperreality, my perception of video games began to change. Hyperreality refers to the unclear distinctions between real and unreal, as the real is no longer natural as it is reproduced throughout various mediums and technology. Therefore, the reproduction of “reality” becomes as real as actual reality. Video games are an example of this, as individuals are living in a different world through the game, as a replacement of the real. Playing video games can provide the gamer with an encounter that they would not essentially and realistically be able to experience in their life otherwise. Therefore, the hyperreal indicates the simulation’s replacement of the real, allowing the video games to stand in for reality. This is both beneficial and potentially dangerous for participants. Similarly to all other media, video games and online games require extreme care and caution when being played. On one hand, video games can be an alternative experience that participants will encounter knowing it is a mere game. On the other hand, one can become extremely addicted to these games and the distinction between real and fake can become blurred. This is also similar to people’s involvement and use with the Internet.

The Internet has become an extreme phenomenon in the past decade, altering means of communications in methods which were unimaginable in previous years. Whereas in the past individuals separated by extreme distances would communicate via telephone or written letters, in present times individuals are able to technologically, through the Internet, communicate easily. In seconds, one is able to upload a photo to any social networking site imaginable, such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. This phenomenon, as great as it may appear to many, also has its negatives. Privacy and copyrights are some of the biggest issues both corporations and individuals must encounter when dealing with the Internet. The Internet is available to any individual worldwide, therefore uploading personal information and images online can be devastating. At the same time, people become immensely attached to these technologies, as they become a part of our daily routines and lives. These technologies are so advanced one is capable of accessing Facebook and Twitter, among hundreds of thousands of other applications, on devices such as cell phones, and even music players such as iPods. With such advancements, it is only natural for one to be confused regarding the boundaries between hyperreality and everyday life. As a part of the research I attempted to convey how the online world and the real world are becoming more and more intertwined, making it as such that individuals have more meaningless interaction via the Internet, rather than proper and actual interaction with the people surrounding them. Society is in need of realizing that as media changes, we change with it instantly. As Marshall McLuhan wrote in The Medium is the Message, the media is “…forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.”

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