Let me give you an example. For instance, say the media places emphasis on people who have straight hair. They advertise "beautiful hair" as been straight. This makes people all over believe thar straight hair is better than curly hair and even though someone might have beautiful curly hair, that person might want their hair to be straight because that's what the media has portrayed. That person will then reject her/his curly hair even though it's a part of who they are. This is just one small silly example, but people do this all the time with many other things. We internalise the ideas portrayed through the media and make that a part of our identity and we end up rejecting the things that really are a part of who we are.
This makes things very dangerous, because people were all created differently and each person has received what is good for them. When we start adopting other things as our identity then we can easily become despondent and unhappy with who we are.
The best thing to do is to gain an understanding of what the media portrays and how that relates to you as an individual, and more importantly as a Muslim. Always have a "filter" on and begin to develop an awareness of the ways in which the media influences your own identity. If there are things you see through the media that make you unhappy with your identity, then perhaps you should consider lessening your exposure to the media.
Let's do a little exercise now:
Take a minute or two and take stock. How much radio do you listen to? How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend surfing the internet? How much time do you spend reading magazines or newspapers? Think back through an average week in your life and jot down, per day, what your media habits are and how long you spend on these activities. Then add up your total viewing hours for the week and see if it’s what you’d expect.
1. HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU NORMALLY SPEND WATCHING TV?
2. HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DO YOU SPEND READING MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS?
3. WHAT ACTIVITY DO YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME DOING:
Reading watching TV talking with friends
Listening to the radio watching movies going out
Talking with family outside activities
4. DO YOU TALK ABOUT TV SHOWS TO OTHERS AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN THEM?
5. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON THE COMPUTER (NOT WORK RELATED)?
THINK ABOUT THE RESULTS THAT YOU RECEIVED HERE!
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE TIME YOU SPEND ON MEDIA RELATED ACTIVITIES?
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT ON THESE ACTIVTIES, DO YOU THINK IT CAN HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON YOU?
The more time you are exposed to the media, the more likely it is to have an influence on your identity.
Reference for exercise:
Focus on the Family (2000). No Apologies: The truth about life, love and sex (teachers guide). Hillcrest: South Africa