The Republic of Armenia has a rich and ancient cultural heritage. It is located at the crossroads where east meets west. To the west, Europe, to the north, Russia and to the east and south, the Middle East. It is a place of deep tradition that is currently undergoing a great deal of cultural change. This change began in 1991, when Armenia gained its freedom from the Soviet Union and became an independent, democratic nation. A free media being essential to a democratic state, the Armenian people quickly rose to support the media. Having only recently been suppressed by a communist regime, the Armenian people are concerned with keeping a sharp eye on their newly democratic government. Growing up in a traditional Armenian family in the midst of all this cultural and political change, my perception of the world was greatly influenced by the media as well as my family’s reaction to it. The media has had a strong influence on not only myself, however, but on the entire culture of Armenia, and it has greatly influenced my personal beliefs and my view of the world and other cultures.
I grew up in a country where media was completely repressed and controlled until just over two decades ago. My view of the world would be so much different today if it were not for the media, especially television. This is the first generation where television is an integral part of daily life. It is our source of news, where we get our information about the outside world and our perception of other cultures. Like many Armenians, my family did not often travel outside of the country so my perception of the world outside of Armenia came mostly from television. For example, growing up, I what I knew about America, and Americans, came from their shows I watched on television, which gave me an unrealistic and biased view of that culture. Yet, without it, my knowledge would have been much more biased and certainly less realistic.
While television media gave me my perception of the outside world, my perception of my own culture came mostly from the radio and print media such as newspapers and magazines. I grew up listening to the news on the radio and reading about it in newspapers. There is only one national radio station, yet each region has many local stations. While news from media sources like newspapers and radio is not overly trusted by most Armenians, it is listened to, read and intensely debated by almost everyone. Like in most countries, the media informs the people of government policy and the general state of the government. There are hundreds of newspapers and magazines published today in Armenia that people can choose to get their news from. Unfortunately, most are highly biased, being owned be either wealthy individuals or by one of the political parties. This is why it is not overly trusted by most Armenians. This has had a powerful impact on my view of my own culture. I myself am not overly trusting of media and the government, and I never blindly believe what I read, no matter what the source.
Growing up I always loved music, so listening to the radio was one of my great joys. There are many radio in Armenia, which play traditional Armenian music, classical music, as well as music from places like America, Russia, France and Germany. I have always felt a deep connection to culture through music. I feel like my understanding of my own culture has been greatly influenced by listening to traditional music. In turn, I feel like I understand other cultures more through their music than through other forms of media.
The Internet as a media source has only recently become widely available in Armenia. The Internet, and especially social media, has had a very strong effect on the Armenian youth culture. Social media allows cultures all over the world to instantly connect and interact like never before. However, it is not well trusted by older generations, and this has caused some disconnect between the more traditional, older generations and the youth generation. Culture is very important in Armenia, to both the young and old. While I am grateful to have the opportunity to live in a time when media technology like the Internet is available to me, I understand the great social changes and conflicts it has caused.
Due to its unique location and ancient heritage, the Armenian people have lived through many forms of government and been influenced by many cultures. The country has been ruled by monarchies, controlled by dictators and free under democratically elected leaders. Yet, through all of these changes, the Armenian people have maintained their strong, independent, and unique culture. The media today caters to this strong and independent culture. It is a part of the Armenian people. However, its influence can have positive and negative effects. The media has had an incredible influence on my perception of the world and other cultures and I am thankful to live in a time when all types of media are available to me.