Do your media choices define you?

I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed earlier this week and saw a status that really stuck out to me. Even though I had stopped reading statuses as soon as I saw “Fifty Shades of Grey” mentioned (Thanks Valentine’s weekend.), somehow I decided to keep reading this one. I don’t know if I was more surprised that I had finished reading yet another long status about Fifty Shades of Grey or that I had read an argument on Facebook that I actually agreed with.

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More than Fifty Shades, what truly interested me was her statement that “liking a movie doesn’t label you. Yes, I do think that people shouldn’t be so offended by this movie. Nobody is going to force you to watch anything you don’t want to watch.

She stated that if watching Fifty Shades of Grey means you need to seek professional help, than liking horror movies makes you a murderer. I think if you asked people whether or not they thought watching horror movies made that person a murderer, everyone would likely quickly respond that they do not think that. However if asked the same thing about Fifty Shades of Grey, many people might say that they thought that liking this movie reflected some negative quality about the watcher.

So that begs the question – how much do our preferences in media and entertainment reflect who we really are? Is there some aspect of our media usage that is more telling than others?

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These charts show how teens are communicating, which appears to be primarily with the help of mobile devices, and how social media use has changed over the years in adults. This data would help paint a very specific picture of a person because it reflects things that they actually do every day. So there has to be some media information that is very informative of us.

That led me to think specifically about entertainment, and what media we consume when we want to be entertained in some way. Does watching trashy TV shows mean that we are trashy people, I think most people would say not. Just like people aren’t bad people for watching Fifty Shades of Grey or scary movies. So do the subjects of media we seek out really reflect on us? I’d argue not. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it is probably extremely different than a person’s life. We seek entertainment as a diversion from our own lives, so people seek out experiences that are extremely different from their lives. That means that what type of thing you watch or read is probably opposite of how they are in real life. In this case, data surrounding media entertainment preferences would not be reflective of a person.

So to go back to my original questions, our preferences in media and entertainment do not truly reflect who we really are. If you want to paint a picture of someone, look to how they use media in their everyday – real – life. Our choices in entertainment are not as telling of our true selves than more matter of fact data.

Emma vanBree

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