Comparison of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You and Thomas DeZengotita's Mediated

Comparison of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You and Thomas DeZengotita's Mediated

Length: 1335 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Both Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You and Thomas DeZengotita's Mediated deal with the idea of increased density of available choices in today's culture. For every product and activity, there are countless decisions to be made. From food to clothing to office supplies, there are so many options to sift through. Theory and analysis of this increasing complexity for consumers of products and the media are explored by both authors.
The thesis of Everything Bad is Good for You is this: people who deride popular culture do so because so much of pop culture's subject matter is banal or offensive. But the beneficial elements of video games and TV arise not from their subject matter, but from their format, which require that players and viewers winkle out complex storylines and puzzles, getting a "cognitive workout" that teaches the same kind of skills that math problems and chess games impart. As Johnson points out, no one evaluates the benefit of chess based on its storyline or monotonically militaristic subject matter.
Mediated is difficult to describe. Imagine that you are the sun, and every flower on Earth points toward you, every leaf on every tree angles toward you. This is somewhat similar to the situation we, as 21st-century Americans, face every day. Each of us is at the center of our own solar system, surrounded every day by hundreds of flattering appeals for our attention, be it television, radio, books, magazines, billboards, etc. What effect does this have? How do we, who are practically the stars of our own reality shows, compare to our grandparents, whose media intake was but a trickle? How do kids growing up today find their way through the constant barrage of information, advertising, and entertainment? Is there anything left in the world that's still real, or is "real" the best we can hope for? DeZengotita neither celebrates nor condemns our situation, but he does a great job of describing it.
DeZengotita's second chapter of Mediated is based on the idea that children spend more time in the adolescent phase of life due to the options they are faced with. The learning curve is the same as it used to be, but kids are faced with so much more to learn now that it takes them longer to deal with becoming an informed adult. They have to choose who they want to be as an adult, and there are just too many options for them to sort out in the amount of time their parents went through the process.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Comparison of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You and Thomas DeZengotita's Mediated." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Feb 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=161167>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Why Is Bad So Good? Essay

- English poet John Milton once wrote, “…good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil.” With this interwoven information, modern audiences are usually able to differentiate the “good guys” from the “bad guys” in a movie or television show. A murderous meth kingpin, a rebellious teenage rapist, and a Los Angeles hit man who quotes Holy Scripture before killing his targets — not your typical group of likeable personalities....   [tags: relating to bad main characters]

Research Papers
572 words (1.6 pages)

Breaking Bad: Marx and Epicureans Essay example

- ​Walter White exaggerates and pushes some of the Marx's and the Epicureans view of life to an extreme which along the way destroys his family, causes harm to others and at the end even kills him. Karl Marx's philosophy was to bring the full potential of each persons ability(2) and for that person to do that job. The Epicureans had a view that being freed of fear along with that pleasure would bring the greatest good. (1) Walter finds great pleasure in making his meth, he also does so with his greatest intent to be the best that he can be....   [tags: Breaking Bad Essays]

Free Essays
1365 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Nonverbal Cues in Computer-Mediated Communication

- Computer-mediated communication is a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Whether the communication is through Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messaging (IM), or such media as massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs,) the ability for human beings to communicate across time and culture is unprecedented in history. Never before have people been able to communicate so freely with strangers around the world. However, it lacks at least one critical aspect of face-to-face interaction: nonverbal communication....   [tags: Communication ]

Research Papers
2372 words (6.8 pages)

Essay on Insurer Bad Faith in California

- Insurer Bad Faith in California Too many people who have paid premiums to an insurance company for years get an unpleasant surprise when they file a claim under their policies: the insurer’s former friendliness and accommodating attitude give way to suspicion, avoidance and even threats. And it all happens at the very time that the loss which caused the claim is adding stress and anxiety to the insureds’ lives. The “Good Faith” Duty of Insurers California was a leader in recognizing this imbalance of power between insurance companies and their customers, and in rectifying it....   [tags: insurance companies, bad faith attorney]

Research Papers
562 words (1.6 pages)

Breaking Bad: The Transformation of Walter White Essay

- A dismal 1.4 million people tuned in to watch the pilot episode of Breaking Bad in January of 2008, but an astonishing 10.28 million viewers tuned in to watch the Breaking Bad finale (Kissell). This exponential increase in viewership can be attributed, partially, to the development of the characters in the show, especially Walter White. As fans of the show tune in each week to watch, they begin to see that Walter is not at all like the meek schoolteacher they initially thought he was....   [tags: Breaking Bad Essays]

Research Papers
2641 words (7.5 pages)

Mediatek India Technology Private Limited Essay

- Mediatek is a leading manufacturing company in India and also has a major share outside the country. Here, I have tried to analyse the strengths and weaknesses present in the company. What are the different opportunities and threats present in the external environment for the company. Strengths: Mediatek makes the technology that’s at the heart of the things that we use every day. Its strength lies in optimising system design, perfectly integrating software and hardware design to offer users an uninterrupted and always connected technology by providing smartphones, tablets and dual SIM experience....   [tags: manufacturing company, mediatek, recruitment]

Research Papers
1825 words (5.2 pages)

A Comparison of the Scop in Beowulf and Widsith Essays

- The Scop in Beowulf and Widsith.       The scop in Anglo-Saxon times had a very defined role. A comparison between the scop in Beowulf and the scop in Widsith will more clearly define for us what that role was.   The 142 verses of Widsith are the oldest in the English language, and form the earliest output in verse of any Germanic people. Widsith contains a huge catalog of 70 tribes and  69 important people, many of whom are proven to have lived in the third, fourth and fifth centuries. The vast knowledge of history which was required of a good scop, just amazes the reader....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
991 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on A Comparison of Death Of A Salesman and Hamlet

- A Comparison of Death Of A Salesman and Hamlet Willy Loman and Hamlet, two characters so alike, though different. Both are perfect examples of tragedy in literature, though for separate reasons and by distinct methods. The definition of a tragedy, in a nutshell, states that for a character to be considered tragic, he/she must be of high moral estate, fall to a level of catastrophe, induce sympathy and horror in the audience, and usually die, and in doing so, re-establish order in the society....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
616 words (1.8 pages)

A Comparison of The Aeneid and Metamorphoses Essay

- A Comparison of The Aeneid and Metamorphoses      Both Vergil and Ovid imbedded underlying meanings in their epics The Aeneid and Metamorphoses.  In this paper I will focus on the underlying meaning in the Underworld scene in Vergil's The Aeneid (lines 356 through 1199).  I will also focus on three scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses.  Both epics contain a larger message about the importance of the Roman past for its present and future under Augustus.         The story of Aeneas in the Underworld can be interpreted as a brilliant rendition of the story of Rome's past, present, and future.  When Aeneas descends into the Underworld, he is escorted by the Sibyl (lines 347 -...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
1104 words (3.2 pages)

Bad Debts Essay

- Section 166(a) of the tax code says that "there shall be allowed as a deduction any debt which becomes wholly worthless within the taxable year." However, in the case of a guarantor of another party's debt, a special set of rules operates to determine the time such guarantor is entitled to a "bad debt" deduction (once the guarantor honors the obligation to the creditor). Sec. 1.166-1 Bad debts. (a) Allowance of deduction. Section 166 provides that, in computing taxable income under section 63, a deduction shall be allowed in respect of bad debts owed to the taxpayer....   [tags: Tax Bad Debt Expense Accounting Research]

Free Essays
1919 words (5.5 pages)


Johnson's answer to DeZengotita's theory on options is his view on increasing media complexity. One of his main points is that television shows and movies have become more complex as the rise of the internet is connecting people like never before while conditioning their minds to a whole new way of communicating. The fact that children growing up today can not only program the VCR better than their parents, but also create a web page, hold multiple instant message conversations and send emails to any number of people without breaking a sweat, is proof of the increase in the average person's ability to follow a large number of simultaneous tasks/storylines/stimuli.
The best example of the connection between Johnson's media complexity comes from Ellen Degeneres' Here and Now comedy routine. She describes her TV watching experience in the new age of interactive programs. Frustration abounds as she tries to watch a news program, answer a poll question from the show online, read the headline ticker at the bottom of the screen and check the weather on the side of the screen, all at the same time. This task, difficult for someone who has not grown up with this kind of news presentation, is simple for a teenager today.
According to Johnson, the average IQ has raised a significant amount from generation to generation because of the change in media diet. The fact that children growing up today have so much exposure to today's fast-paced media and entertainment means that they can process tasks and questions (the type that are tested on IQ tests) better than their parents. The Raven test, as Johnson describes it, is simple for most kids these days because of their prior exposure to similar visual puzzles and image based questions. However, it is important that Johnson acknowledges that IQ tests are not the basis for all human intelligence. Being well-educated is not the same as being smart.
One of the best points Johnson makes, is that media (television shows, movies, and video games) are being consumed by society not despite their complexity, but because of their complexity. People today have a hunger for something that is going to stretch their imaginations, challenge their beliefs, and make them think. Media consumers have a thirst for intricate storylines and plot twists. This desire is a sign of a higher level of thought and cognitive processing, a.k.a. Johnson's Sleeper Curve.
Admittedly, there may be validity to Johnson's arguments. It is entirely possible that media consumers today are getting smarter, but you also have to acknowledge DeZengotita's theories on a mediated society. Are people getting smarter, or are they just learning what is expected of them and delivering what society wants to see? How much of Johnson's new media diet is too much? What happens when all the options and all of the stimuli just go too far?
For example, a Target advertising insert in the Sunday New York Times pitched their stores' new pharmacy services on the basis that their pill bottles and their pharmacists are more stylish than you ordinarily expect at the drug store: In the ad there was a hip-looking young Asian woman with stylish eyeglass frames, and sleek pill bottles in fun, bright colors instead of the drab old institutional orange. So apparently no corner of our economy is immune to lifestyle-oriented advertising. You are expected to make the contents of your medicine cabinet look cooler and more impressive, presumably for those inevitable snoops who peek in there when visiting. And you should regard medicine not as a necessary product, one that should be available to all citizens in our society, but as a distinctive, positional product that demonstrates your knack for designy accoutrements. Adding a style component to a basic necessity like this adds justification to arguments that would deny it to a significant portion of society who can't afford it. It starts to seem optional rather than a baseline essential that should be provided for everyone. And it suggests that no matter how mandatory the consumption is for the consumer, our economy will try to trick that consumption out into a choice laden with options. Meaningless options such as the choice of what color bottle your antibiotics will come in masquerade as power in our cultural, and encourage us to forget what constitutes real power.
To me, the most interesting question about the whole issue is whether the kind of learning that Johnson focuses on in the book outweighs the potentially negative aspects of what is generally thought of as our dumbed down and getting dumber culture...in some ways, it's a question of the importance of how we learn versus what we learn. Unfortunately, that question lies largely outside the scope of the book and is probably an entire book of its own
The world may never know what the true effects of the media and all the options in everyday life, but both Johnson and DeZengotita have presented strong arguments for their theories. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, between Johnson's praise and DeZengotita's almost disturbing description of a mediated society. Whether people are becoming smarter or becoming puppets because of today's media, it is undeniable that the media has an effect on people. We can only hope that the changes and influence will improve culture instead of destroy it.
Return to 123HelpMe.com