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Mediated by Thomas de Zengotita is a splendid book .Thomas de Zengotita is a writer of short stories and works as a contributor at Harpers Magazine. He is also an inspired teacher at The Dalton School and the Draper Graduate Program at New York University. Zengotita has an interesting style that wanders off at tangents, often using anecdotal evidence to support his theories.He was awarded the 2006 Marshall Mcluhan Award from the Media Ecology Association by writing Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It, which is a non-fiction book published in 2005 by Bloomsbury about the influence of the media to people and people's lifestyle in the Western world (Thomas de Zengotita: Biography & Resources, 2010). In this book, the author focuses on the processes of modern mediated society rather than providing constructive solutions to amend the corrosion of too much media around us. This book is like a key to a door in people's brains which they prefer to keep shut. People can feel mind-blowing every time they read it. From Princess Diana's funeral to the crisis of mass terror, from sex scandal in the Oval Office to cowboy politics in different regions, from high school groups to hip-hop nationality, from personal blogs on the virtual network to the Weather Channel in reality TV, Mediated takes readers on a tour of every department of modern media-saturated society. Mediated refers to everything people take for granted and reintroduces people to it all as if they face them at the first time. People will laugh, people will squirm, people will agree, people will object-but people will find more unimaginable moments filled up fewer pages than they have ever come across before. The Washington Post called Mediated was a fine bark of a speech about how the American mind is impacted by too much media (Coffey III, 2005).
II. Main Points of the Book
The core concept of Thomas de Zengotita's Mediated is "how the media affects your life and the way you live in it." The basic of his discussion is that people can choose between opinions to determine who we are. Then De Zengotita's work follows in a short tradition of media studies - he began his work with the anthropecology pioneer Marshall McLuhan, who is often known as the predictor of the digital age. McLuhan once pointed out that when things came at people very fast, naturally people would lose touch with themselves. Anybody moving into a new world could lose identity. In his early book, The Mechanical Bride (1951), which McLuhan began to describe this "new world" in detail, perceiving that people's life was being shaped and impacted by the power of swiftly technology development and the rapid spread of new media all over the world. According to McLuhan, electronic media were the "extensions of man," the relationship of people to the world was fundamentally changed by people's arising "self-identity", and step by step, changed the world itself finally. Thomas de Zengotita's standpoints are in agreement of McLuhan's, pointing out that today, people inhabit a global village, and the individual has been increasingly focused on in our society over the last half-century. Christopher Lasch(1979) identified the prototype of the postmodern individual as people hold fast to the logic of individualism. Apart from the work of Lasch and McLuhan, there are other books such as The Consumer Society (Baudrillard, 1970), and The Postmodern Condition (Lyotard, 1984), all conducting milestone explorations into the social developments of the media technology and a high degree of individualism which were influencing one another in radically new ways, and at lightning-fast speeds. Thomas de Zengotita synthesized their work and gathered up where these authors left off to reveal the nature of the effect of media to our life in a special way. In Mediated, the author describes the technologically advanced, media-saturated America as a world constituted of millions of individual "flattered selves," every one living in its own isolated "Me World." De Zengotita believes that from the private matters to the public events, this narcissism on a huge scale has been constantly amplified by mass media in all areas of our lives. He think of people's minds are filled with mediated information with a matter of quantitative fact. He deems that there is nothing people remain essentially unmediated and people's experience can be reflected by media.
Media is often criticized as an exploiting tool, an instrument of the political and upper-class elite used to shape the pattern we think and how we act. However, De Zengotita expounds that the effect of the media on people's life is not repressive to common people, but that we learn to be mediated on our own. In his book, the teenager is the radical expression of mediated person. He says, "the teenager is the creature and creator of pop culture". Due to the consumer culture make the teenager flatter them as very important to the world. The flattering media finally cut off the audience into a narcissistic MeWorld. Meanwhile, De Zengotita claims we now also realize that in a representational world we can "start deciding who we are", we learn how to act and what is appropriate by watching the media. In this continual process of representation and reflection, mediated people become actors, which are called "method actors" in this book. Media drive us become the participant in the process of mediation. When my little sister saw the makeup advertisement on TV, she paid her attention to the perfect makeup of the models and then bought the makeup which was unsuitable for her. No one forced her to buy the makeup, but the media drive her become the participant after the advertisement because the flattering media make her believe she can be as beautiful as the model.
Mediated is an insightful commentary that makes readers see the world in a new light. De Zengotita's style is light and humorous, making for easy and interesting reading. The author makes clear that the advanced technology isn't directly the source of our neuroses, it only serves to makes it easier for us to live in a real world that isn't always exactly real. He points out that the desire for connection and ratification is original. Although De Zengotita's style is light and humorous, the message in his book is serious and striking. He points out that people often refuse to take the fact that reality is becoming hard to distinguish from the unreality. This is a ruthless idea for us to accept that the virtual world is becoming terrifying for its occupation of everywhere in our life, but De Zengotita states all the truth that we refuse to admit bitingly.
The beginning four chapters are fantastic, presenting exactly how modern media has shaped our world and our living style. But the rest of the book loses this point quickly. Rather than focusing on the point of the title, the author turns to discuss specific topics, events and issues that could easily be overlooked. The readers may feel confuse of what the author is saying. Maybe the writing is funny but also ostentatious sometimes, so I don't know what does the author want to illustrate by using these examples and anecdotes. Something the author says is pure conjecture.
This book is written totally in the second person, possibly because, the author wants us to realize that postmodern culture is all about you. Most readers can easily find out some aspect of themselves in some pages. After all, the author says problem of understanding the mechanism and process of mediation is that people can't get outside it, so De Zengotita can't separate his representation of the mediation without referencing. The audience can relate themselves to the author's refers of mediation.
To a large extent, De Zengotita's statement is reasonable and compellent. However, there are some flaws. One of the them appears when De Zengotita poses a question about whether it is true that people care about building their personalities through consumption. The author's answer is as follows: "Yes, but it's so much more so now that it's like saying a hurricane is just a bunch of wind." This answer only sounds partly convincing, as though De Zengotita neither gives the irrelevant answer nor a clear answer. What's more, the notion that everything is "mediated," that is too absolute, just the subjective assume of the author. For example, the author use the example of his son is lack of generalization. There is also a question that the author raises but never gives the response about the reason why the mediated world should be refuted? De Zengotita just replied that it was just seemingly wrong. Maybe most of people would agree with it, but no one has the ability to give definite answer. Hence we can say this book is more about delimiting postmodernism than judging it.
With Mediated, Thomas de Zengotita received appraised acclaim outside his field of study. This is a brilliant, interesting book, with a point that spread awareness, not judgment. But once you have accepted the awareness, you are certain to see yourself and life in a different way, and to keep asking many confusing questions. The process of mediation has commodified humanity. We are not only spectators but also the first products of it before the other things. We need to know who we are. De Zengotita's analysis tells us that the opposite of reality is not fake and superficial, it is optional. We choose between options to know who we are, to pose to the world about who we are. We should always do this, but the difference is that today's situation is we have even more options than before. Therefore, facing the influence of diversified media, we need to know who we are. I used to spend my teenage year to think about what kind of person I would like to be, so I drafted my ambitions around the celebrity biography and movies which I was fond of very much. But like many of my peers, I spent time converting one determinate goal to another. In most cases, I felt in some doubt, not really knowing who I was, and I was just wavered in the options available to me with just interest. After reading this book, I realize that my ambition and personality is in my own hands. The most important thing for me is to find out who I am and what my deepest desire is. In a word, if you want to think afresh about who you are, start from Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in it. Even if you will disagree with the topic in the book, you will definitely get the fresh contents on your brain. Besides, Zengotita's case is rooted from the American experience, whether it will travel out to the global stage is unclear. I think recommendation of this book to people abroad is worthwhile.