Media is usually seen as a feature of the modern world enabled by the latest technologies. Scholars, educators, parents, and politicians often talk about media as something people should be wary of due to its potential negative impact on their lives. But do we really understand what media is?
Elizaveta Friesem argues that instead of being worried about media or blaming it for what’s going wrong in society, we should become curious about uniquely human ways we communicate with each other. Media Is Us proposes five key principles of communication that are relevant both for the modern media and for people’s age-old ways of making sense of the world.
In order to understand problems of the contemporary society revealed and amplified by the latest technologies, we will have to ask difficult questions about ourselves. Where do our truths and facts come from? How can we know who is to blame for flaws of the social system? What can we change about our own everyday actions to make the world a better place? To answer these questions we will need to rethink not only the term “media” but also the concept of power. The change of perspective proposed by the book is intended to help the reader become more self-aware and also empathic towards those who choose different truths.
Concluding with practical steps to build media literacy through the ACE model—from Awareness to Collaboration through Empathy—this timely book is essential for students and scholars, as well as anyone who would use the new understanding of media to decrease the current levels of cultural polarization.
Elizaveta Friesem teaches in the Communication Department of Columbia College Chicago and is an affiliated faculty member of the Media Education Lab of the University of Rhode Island. An interdisciplinary scholar with an international background, Friesem works on problematizing common understandings of media, including its relationship to self, meaning, and power. She is also an editor of the Journal of Media Literacy Education.
You'll understand why media literacy has been called "the new humanities" after reading Elizaveta Friesem's marvelous new book. Through a close look at the nature of human communication, the critical analysis of media, the practice of collaboration, and the power of empathy, Friesem models the kind of self-reflexive stance that is needed to make sense of our social relationships in the complex digital world we inhabit. There's so much depth and wisdom in this book, and it's presented in an accessible and engaging way that will resonate with every reader and every aspect of daily life. What a great contribution this book makes to the field!
While searching for the truth, media resembles and competes with criminal trials, especially in cases of public interest. Elizaveta Friesem's book can help diverse scholars and criminal law practitioners like myself understand the semantic aspect of mediated communication as it relates to the construction of meaning. Analyzing media without falling back on blame is the book's best suggestion.
We target modern media for many of the issues of society, often blaming the contemporary communication landscape for much of humans’ woes. In Media Is Us, Elizaveta Friesem expertly argues that this simplifies very complex problems. Friesem brings to light insightful connections between the meanings we make about media, the way humans communicate, and the power imbalances throughout culture. Friesem skillfully presents an excellent and essential idea in our polarized world; we must replace blame with empathy.