Being on a genre binge, that lines up pretty perfectly with where I am in life, is always when I am reminded of Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratification theory. This theory, in its briefest form says that we use the media to gratify our needs.
Not Just Lucky, Little Black Book: A Tool Kit For Working Women, The Courage to Be Disliked, Sugar Mamma TV, Pick Up Limes and Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations Podcasts are just a few of the media products I have been making use of lately. Similar to pumping up Beyonce’s Don’t Hurt Yourself when you want to break something, these new texts which are in my rotation seem to be speaking to something particular. For the most part, I have sought out these products or been intrigued enough to purchase or listen either having seen them on a social media channel or upon recommendation.
The self-help industry is ginormous, I don’t know stats, and at this time I am not interested in that. What I am interested in however is the way the media keeps presenting us with the same stories and we interact with them on different levels, during different times and from different angles. Alternatively, the media reacts to society, mass culture literally comes from the masses, and in this case like with like has snowballed until I am inundated with external sources of self-help.
There is always something cyclical about the media. Summer editions of magazines encourage fake tans and painted toe nails whilst winter issues demand that we vamp it up. But is this because that’s what they dictate or are they simply reacting to what we want? It’s a fine line. The only reason I know about Black Friday sales is because of the numerous fashion blogger’s telling me to check out their curated sale suggestions.
So who got in first, are we using them or are they using us?