Representation in media is something of a powerful influence of the way that we view not only ourselves but also others within our modern age. Even infants are exposed to media and the versions of reality that it portrays. This kind of thing affects not only who we are, providing us with fictitious role models, but it also affects the way we see the world around us. This should mean that representation in media should be reflective of the people they are trying to represent fairly. Instead, types of people are whittled down to stereotype that can be seen as negative and harmful, not only to the people it reflects but also to the people who see it.
The average US citizen consumes 1.7 trillion hours of media, traditional and digital, approximately 15 hours a day. For children aged eight to twelve, the average approximate media consumption drops to around 6 hours a day, while teens consumed around 9 hours a day. It is recommended that adults should only spend seventeen hours awake every day, meaning that adult, on average, spends most of their waking hours consuming media. Stereotypes are often used in media to portray different ethnicities, genders, sexuality and classes. With the amount of media we consume as a populace, these stereotypes can become the basis of how we treat and see people who are of different backgrounds to us. This can be dangerous, as although stereotypes are based on a slither truth, every person is an individual and often individually differ from the enforced ideas of who they should actually be.
Stereotypes can lead to several things that can negatively impact the way we are treated and the opportunities that we are provided with. For example, because of the negative stereotype that ‘black people are lazy’, people often take this as a given and believe that they are less likely to make an effort, which is not true as people are not solely determined by their race. Because of racial stereotypes, people have been passed over for housing, education, employment and other opportunities that might better or assist within everyday life. It also means that peoples expectations of them stem from inaccurate, overexaggerated stereotypes that poorly reflect on the community as a whole.
Stereotypes have proven to be harmful to not only the way others see us but also the way we see ourselves. Harmful stereotypes may mainly affect minority groups, but they can affect absolutely anyone in many different ways. For example, women are stereotyped as being domestically inclined and have low-level jobs, while men are usually portrayed in positions of power. This has been proven to stunt the frequency of women stepping into positions of power in real-life scenarios. This is demonstrated by the way that the USA, one of the worlds largest countries, has never had a woman as a leader. Men, on the other hand, are seen as insensitive and out of touch with emotions. This has led to boys believing that expressing their emotions weak and unmanly when the truth is that it actually takes more strength to admit to needing help. This often leads to men having mental health issues in later life that can be greatly damaging if kept in.
Not everyone fits in perfectly to stereotypes and this can cause a variety of problems. While there is no effective way to place blame for an issue that society has caused itself, it is important for us to challenge our natural biases and not to fall into a negative behaviour based on stereotypical preconceived notions.