Visual Media in a Digital Age

In this day and age, the focal point of businesses, schools, programs, organizations and individuals is the Internet. The web is not replacing, but instead, enhancing reality, as we know it. People no longer have to be confined to a physical “place.” Instead, they can have ideas, products, personalities and even events that exist in the technological ether of the Internet. The way people relate to each other is adapting to the inclusion of the Internet.

Online communication, like all communication, has a psychological effect on people. Ideas, concepts and archetypes have to be conveyed instantly with fewer resources. That means a great amount of information has to be illustrated with a very short amount of data. Also, due to the universal nature of the Internet, communication of ideas and concepts has to become wider reaching. As a result, a picture, something devoid of actual text, has become the preferred media in this advancing technological age.

The mental effect of a picture is already well-known. It is hard to come across a person who has yet to hear the cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” College degrees are obtained in areas like Art History, which suggests that the history of a people can be undisclosed through the sculptures, paintings, and pictures of a particular generation. This is certainly true. One of the most iconic images circling the era of Vietnam was a monk setting himself on fire—that one image encapsulated and conveyed the emotional state of people regarding the war. Brown vs. The Board of Education effectively argued that the media’s incessant publication of Caucasians was having a negative on the self-esteem of people of African American descent. In summary, a single picture can be a powerful tool of communication.

Photos are not the only visual aspects coloring the mind. There is a proliferation of studies done on the psychological effect of a simple color. The color of a room can determine the functionality of the space. The hue in which a person dresses can subconsciously manipulate how the people around them will address them. There are even studies supporting the psychological dissonance between men and women that are based merely on the ways the genders react to a particular color. Without being aware of it, people are greatly affected by the things they see.

Today’s online society knows the importance of visual media. A good web designer, photographer, graphic designer, etc. is now a precious commodity. A single photo can communicate an entire story. A simple design can demonstrate the entire mission statement of a corporation. The font of a particular logo must illustrate the brand of a company. For instance, Coca Cola’s red and white cursive lettering implies a relaxed state of mind the beverage can supposedly provide. The same company created the jolly and plump Santa Claus in the same red and white colors of the drink to imply the good-natured joy that comes in a can. Although people may be unaware of it, the images they are seeing are actually communicating a vast amount of data. The people who master branding and marketing strategy are the ones who are acutely aware of how the shapes, images, themes and schemes they display affect their targeted audience.