Media Ecology And Symbolic Interactionism

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Human society is a society of selves, and selves exist only in relation to other selves. A self is an individual who organizes his response by the tendencies on the part of others to respond to his or her act. According to George Herbert Mead, self-consciousness is thus a social process involving the capacity of humans as subjects to take themselves as an object. Communication, then, is not simply the sending of a signal to be received by another, but rather complex social—that is responsive—processes of self-formation in which meaning and society-wide patterns emerge (Shaw & Stacey, 2006).
With its very nature as a complex social, meaning-making process that leads toward self-formation, communication becomes inseparable with the concept of
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Going back to the discourse on media, various studies have proven the effect of media on cultural and social perspectives. These effects or impacts are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Media ecology, as discussed by Susan Barnes in her paper Media Ecology and Symbolic Interactionism, is a study of media environments. She cited various studies that highlighted the effect of media or communication technology on culture. In her paper, Barnes presented George Herbert Mead’s notions on the effect of media on people’s concept and/or perception of self as ‘social objects in relationship with others’.
But before further discussing the usefulness of media ecology in analysing interpersonal mediated communication, Barnes found it necessary to discuss George Herbert Mead’s symbolic interactionism
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The prime levels include objectification and subjectification of reality. Media ‘objectification’ refers to the transmission or delivery of information and facts as is news reports, and latest trends in fashion, entertainment and world events. Media subjectification, on the other hand, is the persuasive use of language and information to promote modes of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Several communication scholars attacked media that is synonymous to domination, manipulation, and indoctrination—the media being used to inject various philosophies, even the most alien ones, to people or receivers who are seen as passive and obeying. Such undemocratic manner in using communication leads us to calling it 'vertical communication'. Senders, commonly residing at the top of the hierarchy, exploits media to subdue the majority. To secure overall domination and keep the situation unchanged, media is utilized by the oligarchic minorities. Professor Laswell labeled such as the oligarchic model—instruments of communication are used to indoctrinate and distract. Paulo Freire also regards mass communication media as propagator of myths, norms, and values of the oligarchic minorities and, as such, vertical and alienating communication
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