I've been thinking about this a lot recently. My dad was visiting recently and we got into an in-depth discussion about all kinds of things. One of the most interesting things we spoke about was the very subject name of this thread. Recently we've had a few discussions about how the internet has made life better or worse for people. He is largely pessimistic about its influence. I'm largely optimistic. In particular, I think it has been amazing at giving a voice to marginalised groups and bringing their causes to wider attention in a way that would have been impossible previously, and in a very direct way without any concerns about sub-editors or newspapers/magazines needing to stay afloat.
One thing I mentioned was that young people now have access to a much wider range of news sources, and can select their own media in a completely different, and much more positive, way than has ever gone before. He argued that for the most part, this just involved the most cynical, negative news sources rising to the top, and it had been a kind of cynical arms race, with blogs and news media trying to out-cynic each other.
My initial reaction was to disagree, but the more time I sit with the idea, the more interesting I think it is. Obviously, there is a huge amount of unpleasantness in the world, and many of the most powerful people in the world are involved in some very dodgy stuff, but are young people buying into a worldview which is overly negative? Obviously there are huge levels of injustice, oppression, greed and apathy and the consequences are often horrible (as has always been the case) but I think generally, we are living in a world that's as positive a place to be for young people in all of history in many ways, and while we all have a responsibility to help make positive change where we can, I think many young people are far too pessimistic in their outlook. I'm particularly troubled by the notion that the world is controlled by some sort of illuminati organisation, and that all the bad things in the world are orchestrated. Largely, the biggest problems in the world are caused by human failings, which we all have. I don't think it does anyone any good to think it's something bigger and more all-encompassing than that.
So do you think the way young people engage with news media has been a positive or negative thing for young people's ability to make positive changes? Do you think the average young person of today is better informed than 20 years ago, when all we had to go on was mass media? How do you think young people's relationship with news media will change as time goes on?