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Exploring the Impact of Visual Content in Choices

An ancient philosopher once said, “I see, I remember.” We consume so much content through our eyes all the time, but have you ever thought how does that impacts our choices?

Image: Netflix Screen by Mollie Sivaram

Films, shows, memes, social media posts and more have become an indispensable part of our lives. Everywhere we look, every word we read and every voice we hear is a form of a content that can affect our aspirations, inspirations and motivations. Filmmaker Jean Cocteau once said, “A film is a petrified fountain of thought.”

However, the reality might be different now. Our films and shows are no longer scared to leave a mark. Our consumption of visual content has enabled us to make choices inspired by such content to be at the place that seems great at the end of the film. However, that destination might be very different in reality. Studies have proven time and again that the content we consume through visual mediums have a direct effect on our thoughts process and hence, choices!

Positive Changes in Choices

Like everything in the world, the impact of films, shows and social media are dividable as positive and negative. Talking about the positive influence of the visual content, we cannot ignore the fact that it makes us more susceptible to newer ideas.  

Image: Pride Graffiti by Jason Leung via Unsplash

Movies such as Pad Man or Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan, that mainstreamed conversations about menstrual health and homosexuality, are known to have a positive influence on people’s thought process. Films made under the big banner of Bollywood, like these, functions mainly to multiply money. However, they served another purpose – educated people to accept difference and science. Visual content has served as a medium that allows people to make changes in their choices towards some elements of society and preach acceptance and diversity.

There isn’t any doubt that movies and TV shows don’t increase the knowledge base of people. National Geographic, Discovery Channel etc. have proved time and again that entertainment can be informative. But what people sometimes don’t realize is how that knowledge can lead to different life paths. Like, a TV show named The Big Bang Theory, has inspired many young children to pursue a career in hard sciences. The show also had a scholarship fund that helped 15 students every year to graduate in science at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Image: Virtual Learning by Robo Wunderkind via Unsplash

The last positive that I want to talk about, in reference to the impact on choices created by visual content is that it brings us closer to our emotions. The studies for emotions and the psychology of a person is the most complex branch of science. Till today, there is not one specific definition of psychology that is accepted by all scientists. Though, images and motion pictures that we see on TV, cinema halls and phones have impacted that same psychology. We cry for a character in pain, we laugh through comic scenes, and we feel great when love triumphs hate. We feel these emotions because the picture in front of us makes us closer to what we experience and hence, make a choice of how we want to react.

Negative Changes in Choices
Image: Illustration by Veronica Chen, Yale University

Though the content available on various visual platforms have many positive attributes, they are still a factor that has and will create an imbalance in society. So, let’s discuss the negative impact on choices for the same.

Scrolling through social media platforms, we often come across at least one image talking about having an ideal body shape. Amazingly fit men and women posing and talking about how great their lives have been because of their appearance. According to a study conducted by King University, Tennessee, 87% women and 65% men compare their bodies to that of women on social and traditional media. The statistics make it clear that people are often influenced by the models presenting fitness online and try to mimic their lifestyles. However, the attempt for copying has led to eating disorders, psychological issues and other physical problems.

Image: Shahrukh Khan and Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

Filmy love stories is another factor that can be a negative influence on the choices one makes. We have all seen many epic love stories on screen, from Leo and Rose to Raj and Simran. Content makers use a love story in any genre, context or idea, but do not measure, how impactful is that content? Monogamy requires a lot of hard work and commitment. No matter how one feels about monogamy, it is pretty awful to lie to their partner and violate their trust by getting involved with someone behind their back. The film industry adores some steamy adultery, that can create a deep impact on how one looks at their relationship.

After exploring different effects of visual content on the choices we make, as both individuals and as a society, one visible thing is – visual content leaves a lasting psychological impact on our lives. We consume content with or without a choice, but how deeply we let it dig in our brain, we can control that. Films, TV shows or social media are all platforms generating revenue because of our consumption. So, make a good choice!

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Written By

An opinionated journalism student. Big time Bollywood fan. Sucker for comedy. Proud Gryffindor.

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