The American sociologist’s list of five needs to be fulfilled by the mass media is a partly accurate summary of the functions of the mass media. These five different needs are ones that every human being has but these aren’t fully satisfied by the list. Mass media will never fulfill some of the needs because it is simply impossible. Even in the future media will not able to satisfy all of our needs because there are some needs that have been there since the beginning of the human race and stay there forever.
The first of the five needs are the cognitive needs for acquiring information, knowledge and understanding. These are fulfilled by news reports and informative transmissions. These transmissions could be anything from newsflashes on the radio to extensive documentary series on the television. These needs are what most of the mass media fulfills.
The second set of needs is the affective needs. These are the needs for emotional and aesthetic experience, love and friendship and the desire to see beautiful things. These needs are only partly fulfilled by the mass media. Interacting with another human can only satisfy these needs. Take love, for example. Today the mass media still can’t satisfy this need. No one knows for sure about the future but love will most probably never be satisfied by mass media.
Next on the list are the personal integrative needs for self-confidence, stability, status and reassurance. These needs can be only partly satisfied by mass media. Media can have a huge effect on a person’s confidence. By watching “perfect” people in advertisements, one’s self-esteem can become very low. These types of things can trigger illnesses such as anorexia. Therefore the mass media does more bad than good to this set of needs.
Then come the tension release needs. They are the needs for escape and diversion. These can be partly fulfilled by the mass media, however depending a lot on the individual. People have different preferences as for how to fulfill these needs. For some it is enough to watch a documentary on television, for some it could be climbing the K2.
The last in the list are social interactive needs, the need for strengthening contacts with family, friends and others. For example you can pick up the phone and call someone and talk for as long as you want, and with the videophone becoming an everyday thing, this will be even easier. This set of needs is quite well satisfied by mass media.
The list of five basic needs is only partly fulfilled by the mass media. There are and always will be needs such as love and especially physical love which just cannot be satisfied by any type of media. These kinds of needs require the physical presence of another or more humans and this is something that mass media will never be able to accomplish. Even in the future things that we see in movies such as hologram projections will not be able to do this. Humans have always needed the physical presence of other humans and this will stay the same way forever.