Libby is one of our ambassadors, a passionate writer, in fact, a passionate life liver in every single way possible. She runs her own magazine called “The Pass Around” in which she encourages free and uncensored writing by young people. Recently, she’s been having conflicting thoughts about joining the massive bubble we call “the media” and the power and influence “the media” holds. Here are her thoughts….
About seven months ago I started The Pass Around, an uncensored literary magazine. I know this makes me sound like I eat pretention for breakfast and wipe my bum with gold toilet- paper but I felt like young writers and creators weren’t being listened to. I went to open mics where spoken word poetry was being read out and that was great. But what about the short story writers or the photographers or the painters or the poets whose poems didn’t rhyme? What did they have? Another problem I had was that I felt opinions of young people weren’t being heard. Everything teenagers said was scripted and edited and censored. I have been involved in lots of student voice and empowerment of young people groups and don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing but there was no bad language you know? There was no passion or rawness. Friends of mine would stand up and speak about something like mental health and it would be so tame. So beige. That wasn’t because they didn’t have plenty of interesting and outrageous things to say (they certainly did). It was because they felt they couldn’t be real or themselves. They felt that by truly expressing themselves, they would in some way tarnish their reputation. I had enough. I got my friends to write about things no one talked about, to take pictures of things that needed to be seen and to paint how they felt. And seven months later we’re still going strong.
So that’s all wonderful, I was in my fuzzy little superior bubble. I got to judge my local newspapers and radio stations because they weren’t “real enough”, it was great. But that cosy little headspace was suddenly shattered when I learned about Agents of Socialisation. Oh God. Where do I even begin?
Basically, an agent of socialisation is something that teaches us social norms, for example; family, peer groups, religion and more increasingly, the media. The media influences how we talk, what we eat, what time we go to sleep at. Literally everything. Now, as a producer of media, that’s pretty stressful. Obviously, I know that I don’t influence what people eat for breakfast, or do I? What if, in every edition of the Pass Around, I told people not to eat Weetabix, I got people to write articles about it. What if I plastered it all over our Instagram? What if I told people that if you ate Weetabix then the Pass Around wasn’t for you? Not to sound too big for my boots but I’m starting to think that maybe a couple of people might stop eating Weetabix. Now replace Weetabix with anti-immigrant propaganda. Sheesh. I went down a rabbit hole. I learned about media imperialism which is when culture is imposed on less developed countries cough AMERICA cough. But that got me thinking, am I really showing every side of every argument when I publish The Pass Around?
There’s this guy who owns Fox News and The Times and The New York Times and 21st Century fox and his name is Rupert Murdoch. He is possibly the scariest person I’ve heard of. He twists the media he owns and influences millions of people. Guys, he’s charge of KIDS MOVIES and he’s Trumps BEST FRIEND. Look him up, it’s worrying.
So as both a consumer and a producer of media, I’m feeling very anxious in 2019. I want to make sure that I’m not just regurgitating the Rupert’s ideals in the form of teen angst. I want to be honourable and I want to be able to stand over what I’m creating. I want it to be real and honest and I want it to be what people really think. Because I don’t know about you but I’m sick of rich white guys writing the news, making the news, selling the news. I want diversity. All social classes, races, opinions, ideologies, ages and art forms need to be expressed. Whether we can relate to them or not is irrelevant, we need to at least have accurate information about them. Because as good ol Chomsky would say “We don’t know what we don’t know”. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of work but I want The Pass Around to make people feel like they’re less alone and I’ll never achieve that if I only publish things that make me feel comfortable and secure. We need a shock factor, a bit of honesty and representation of the under- represented.
By Libby Marchant
If you have opinions or thoughts about life or the world we live in, please get in touch. We want to hear your stories!