Being a Communications major means that you deal with media almost all the time. It also means you get to see behind the curtain like in the Wizard of Oz (or whatever movie analogy you prefer) and find out how everything works. It’s important and often really cool information but it also permanently affects how you see the the world around you in a multitude of ways. For example…
1.You can’t just watch TV
No longer can you just watch a TV show without noticing filming techniques or aesthetic choices. You’re constantly wondering about things you never thought of before like a director’s intent. No little detail is unimportant. You will now often find yourself uttering, “They couldn’t have just placed that there randomly. It must be part of some larger imagery.” It’s maddening yet fascinating at the same time.
2. Advertising bothers you
Communications classes teach you pretty early about all the ways advertisements trick and manipulate you. Once you start actively noticing it, commercials just annoy you because you’re thinking, “You can’t fool me that easily. I see right through you. You’ll have to try harder than that.” In the end, Sheetz still tricks you into buying a sandwich filled with mac & cheese bites that you didn’t come in for. You think you’ve finally figured them out and outsmarted them, but they got you again.
3. Rhetorical strategies are everywhere
I often find myself yelling out things like “Straw man!” when watching debates or interviews. Which, out of context, would lead someone to assume that you were simply excited about the aforementioned Wizard of Oz on TV but didn’t know the character’s names. You’ve been taught the strategies of argument as well as the fallacies, so it’s hard not to notice when someone uses them.
This is especially true for the journalism majors out there. That AP style guide is burned into your brain. Every dumb typing mistake becomes distracting and bothersome. Even if you’re just texting a friend and type “your” instead of “you’re” and you don’t think they’ll notice, you fix it because you notice and it will haunt you. Eventually you find yourself making jokes about font types around the office and you wonder who you even are anymore.
5. Colors aren’t just colors
Now you know that different colors affect your brain and the way you respond to things. Now you know why all the food places are red and yellow and why movies all look orange and blue. It’s manipulation on the most basic level and now you can’t stop noticing it. It’s a weird thing when you find yourself focusing on something as trivial as the color of a sign.
6. You inevitably hate your own voice
Not everyone does, but after hearing a recording of their voice, most people are like “Bleh, my voice sounds awful!” Hearing your own voice played back to you is a strange experience and it takes a while before you finally come to terms with the fact that your voice doesn’t actually sound dumb. It’s just the first time you’ve heard it not coming directly from your face.
7. Sports coverage isn’t the same
You find yourself occasionally thinking about that camera that swings over the field on a wire, or how they captured the background sound of the action and layered it under the commentary or other little details of how the broadcast you’re watching. If one of the cameras is just a little shaky, you immediately notice and it distracts you from the game. Curse that knowledge of video and audio production.
8. Everything is in lists!
Like what I’m doing right now! Media journalists in particular are all about their lists. You’ve got your top 10 albums of the year, your list of Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy nominees in each category with your predicted winners and plenty of others. You’re constantly ranking and organizing the media you watch for some future list that will become some future piece you’re going to write. The end of the year means your mind is on all the lists you’re finalizing. I’m thinking about my end of the year list of albums right now as I write this.
9. You’re natural accent becomes harder to ignore
You don’t think you have an accent at all then you learn about proper pronunciation and find out what career speech sounds like. Once that happens you notice all the dumb little quirks in the way you speak all the time. If you’re from Buffalo you say something really nasally or if you’re from Pittsburgh, the dreaded ‘dahntahn’ slips out instead of downtown and you immediately cringe and hope no one noticed.
10. You realize you get to use all the tricks
You’ve been taught all the ways that media manipulates you or affects the way you react and make decisions. But then you remember that you’re going to take a job in the field and be using all those same tricks to your advantage. All those techniques you can’t stop noticing? They work for you now. Use them wisely, my friend.