We study media because we are so immersed in media messages, it takes a special act of awareness to recognize their impact on us. Anthropologist / media theorist Ted Carpenter used an analogy to explain this condition of immersion: we don't know who discovered water, but we're certain it wasn't a fish. Studying the media gives us a vantage point from which to observe our movement through culture. Culture is our medium.
There is no question that media shape our perceptions, beliefs, and actions. If the effect of media is relatively unconscious, we are being moved to think, feel, and act by forces without our express consent. We study the media to help us act in conscious--and responsible--ways.
If we want to live with intention, we study media to learn how to communicate effectively, what tools are available to us to communicate our messages, and how to use collaboration and networking to achieve our goals.