We live in a complex time. The world, as we know it, is constantly changing. With the rapid increase of popularity and availability of technology, we are beginning to see the effects, and potential danger of having the world, and everyone else’s opinions of it, at our finger tips. The youth of today are swimming in dangerous waters of moral relativism, the spiral of silence, and media bias. There is something to be done, and it’s up to us to do it.
One possible solution to the onset of problems and issues the influx in media has caused in this generation, is an increased emphasis on media literacy. In a simple definition, media literacy is the innate ability to navigate the different mediums of media through a critical lens, and formulate a personal opinion regarding the content. Media literacy allows individuals to see through the “mist of darkness” and identify the ideas, agendas, and potential harm within the media sphere.
On the family pedigree of media literacy is the branch of spiritual literacy. If someone is “spiritually literate” they have the developed the gift of revelation. Meaning through diligent searching of the scriptures, pondering the words of prophets and apostles, and asking the source of all truth, God, individuals can receive guidance for their specific needs. Is this not the same formula someone with a high level of media literacy uses to analyze media? Searching the context of what has been written, thinking about potential implications, and going to trusted sources all help us to come to a conclusion. The packaging might be a little different, but the message is the same. Media literacy is uniquely tied to spiritual literacy.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has become increasingly more aware of the powerful effect of media on the youth of the church. In his April 2014 address “The Choice Generation” Randell L. Ridd, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, gave the young men of the church this rallying warning and plea “My young brothers, if you are not proactive in educating your desires, the world will do it for you. Every day the world seeks to influence your desires, enticing you to buy something, click on something, play something, read or watch something. Ultimately, the choice is yours. You have agency. It is the power to not only act on your desires but also to refine, purify, and elevate your desires. Agency is your power to become. Each choice takes you closer to or further from what you are meant to become; each click has meaning. Always ask yourself, “Where will this choice lead?” Develop the ability to see beyond the moment (Ridd, 2014, para. 10)”.
In closing, many General Authorities have touched on the important subject of media literacy or spiritual literacy, with their immediate and eternal consequences. As members of the church and as students of life we would do well to recognize that “[Our] choices determine whether technology will empower [us] or enslave [us] (Ridd, 2014, para. 11)”.