Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Media Debate: Facebook & Obesity

Speaker: Second Proposition Constructive
To continue and expand on the points Neil made, we truly believe that Facebook is one of today’s leading causes of obesity. Firstly, Facebook has proven to be extremely addictive, and the more time our youth spends on Facebook, the less time they will spend on physical activity. We cannot blame our teens for this when being addicted to Facebook has the same mental properties as drug addiction! And with this addiction, just like that of smoking, the withdrawal symptoms have been found to be extreme. In a study that tested out teen’s abilities to stay off Facebook, one in five reported feelings of anxiety, panicking, and loneliness. This means Facebook has gone past the point of being a fun tool that users can choose to spend time on, but rather something that our generation is overdependent on and cannot stop using. This addiction is directly linked to obesity, as online activities and social networking are completely sedentary. The more we are magnetically drawn and dangerously addicted to our computers, the less likely we are to go outside and participate in athletics.

Another way in which social networking can be blamed for the obesity epidemic is by its relationship with overeating. Facebook is such a mindless experience - we have all just sat there, staring at our computers, scrolling and scrolling for hours, with no real purpose. And because we are so unfocused during our time online, we are incapable of realizing how much we are eating, and typically our bodies don’t become full from this form of snacking because the brain does not realize we’ve eaten enough. This behaviour has become so common it has been named by researchers as “food inattentiveness” and is on the rise as we spend more and more time on the computer. It is so easy to keep reaching your hand back into the bag of chips as you browse through your friends’ profiles or pictures, and people don’t take notice of their calorie intake, which can be dangerously high with the unhealthy snack food typically consumed by teenagers. Screen time is a main trigger of compulsive overeating, and with social networking as the main screen activity for our generation, it is clear that it has played a part in teen obesity.

Lastly, one other factor we consider to strongly prove that obesity and Facebook are directly linked is isolation. Today, social interaction is very different from that of even just 10 or 15 years ago. It is now possible to maintain a friendship online, and our generation has therefore lost the capability and respect for face-to-face interaction. In the past, sports have been a bonding and social activity; it was typical to meet up with friends for a basketball game, hang out outdoors, or even just walk to school together. These activities today are completely missing from our lives. We constitute relationships through other methods like cell phones, emails, and most importantly social networking. As we become more comfortable behind a screen, by ourselves, we are seeing a decrease in group activities because they seem foreign to us. In 1992, 66% of boys aged 6-14 participated in organized sports, in 2005 only 56% did, and for girls 57% did in 1992, and by 2005 only 51% participated in organized sports. Plus, this statistic is from 7 years ago, so the rate has probably drastically decreased in response to how our online time has increased with the 2006 inauguration of Facebook. Without the same types of friendships or hobbies as before, we don’t have a lifestyle that naturally includes physical activity, making it necessary to put in our own specific exercise time. But this isn’t working. Only 7% of 5 to 17-year-olds in Canada get the proper amount of daily exercise, yet 49% of Canadians under age 13 have Facebook. Clearly we do not have our priorities straight thanks to Facebook, a major cause of today’s obesity crisis.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Text & Subtext in Advertisements

Since I was not in class for the lesson on the text and subtext of advertisements, I did a little research of my own to learn about what these two concepts mean. Firstly, the text of an ad is the straightforward or implicit message - the words, ideas, or images that the advertisers directly state or show. However, like all forms of media, the stated message is usually not the main one being delivered. The more important message is that of the subtext - the underlying tones or implicit ideologies that the advertisers give off in their ad. A subtext is one's own interpretation, and two people can find a different subtext of the same ad, but advertisers often hint at a certain subtext they want viewers to feel, which is a way of subconciously bringing out insecurties or inner feelings that lead the consumer to purchasing the product or service being advertised, yet another sneaky ploy of the media world.

Take a look at this ad for COVERGIRL Simply Ageless Foundation, which uses clever humour to hide the actually hurtful subtext of the ad.

In this commercial featuring comedian Ellen Degeneres, the explicit messages, or the text, is that this product will help you smooth wrinkles. It directly tells us that you the foundation can make you look younger, unlike a "prune" or a "wrinkleface". It is a fun and upbeat ad, with bright white lights and party music. However, the subtext is much more harsh and gives off strict ideas of what is considered good-looking in our society. The commercial implies that getting older and having natural wrinkles is ugly, and it is necessary to cover them up. It hints that people will judge you negatively if your skin is anything but "perfect" and that what others think about your appearance and age is important. It makes the consumer feel that how they look is not good enough and that this product can solve their problems. In addition, with the happy/dance-y mood of the commerical, it is implied that not only will this product make your skin better, it will make your whole life better. With smoother, younger skin, you will have more fun!

This subtext can be harmful to viewers, as it breaks down their self-esteem and lets the media control what our society considers as beautiful. As consumers, it is important to realize that advertising has its business interests before its humanitarian interests and the messages we feel from watching commercials should not be a reflection of society's values, though sadly this is seldom true.