This morning, when I was interviewing a new friend Matt for the third methods practice we were assigned, I encountered a new problem I had not anticipated. It is not a huge problem, it is definitely something that can be fixed if I put enough thought into it. The interview started out great and I was seeing major improvement in my interviewing skills and he was comfortable and giving me a lot of useful information to work with.
In the middle of the interview he paused and brought up a thought. What if the youth that I interview don’t give me reliable information because of the nature of the question? He pointed out that they may not want to admit that they are influenced by the media, to whatever degree that may be. Everyone prefers to be an individual and likes to think that they are influenced as little as possible from outside sources. Matt agrees that influence occurs, but he suggested that I try a different approach than telling the youth straight out that I am testing how much the media influences their thoughts and goals. They may get defensive and distort the true information. Honestly, this makes sense to me because I like to think of myself as an individual and with unique thoughts and ideas. It’s true that I am influenced, which is what led me to this project and made me more open about admitting it, but I can see how I could encounter that problem.
To illustrate one of his thoughts, Matt asked me a question. He said, “If you were told you could get a free pair of shoes and you had to pick between two pairs, a generic brand or a pair of Nikes, which would you pick? You are not told the difference, you just see the shoes and are told to pick.” Of course I told him I would pick the Nikes. He told me that I know the difference in quality of shoe because of the media. The media has conditioned us to recognize one pair as better than the other. To someone who lives somewhere where there is little media influence, where Nikes aren’t commercialized and built up, there is an equal chance that he would pick the generic brand because he has not undergone the media conditioning.
He recommended that I ask questions similar to this so that I could see how their preferences change according to the media, which I think will be useful throughout some interviews. But I also think that it is important to get several opinions on how they feel the media has affected them. I think a few direct questions will aid me in understanding why some people feel that media influence is negative and would rather deny that it affects them.