Reagan Villet 5/17/16
Growing up as a “millennial“, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a computer or television in my home. With these medias came a new type of exposure to information and entertainment that the world had not seen before, and I have grown up with that new world at my fingertips. However, after my trip to the Titanic Belfast museum, I have a new perspective on what and how we learn from media, and just how misleading this can often be. First off, this trip has made me realize just how uneducated I am about the world outside of America. I had no clue that Belfast was even a place, let alone a city with such culture and history.
On my taxi ride from the airport to our hotel, my driver pointed out the Titanic Belfast museum to me, a huge building that he said was designed to resemble the hull of the ship to size. I was immediately confused, thinking, “why would a city in Northern Ireland have a museum dedicated to a ship that sank coming from America?”. This question was somewhat answered for me on the bus tour we took Sunday, where we were told that the entire ship was actually constructed and launched from the harbor in Belfast. I was and am still amazed about my lack of knowledge of this, as the Titanic’s voyage (and sinking) is something that I, as well as many Americans think we are very familiar with. I am not ashamed to admit that I thought the ship was built in America, launched in America, and sank in America, all of which was proven false by just a one hour tour of an incredible museum.
The tour began by talking about the thriving city of Belfast past, and how the Titanic came to be. We went on a ride that allowed us to have a much more interactive view of the process of building the ship, and we were shown video of recreations of the inside of the ship and saw first-hand accounts of its beauty and glory. I felt a sense of pride for Belfast, and I was no longer confused about their immaculate museum dedicated to a ship that had sank; I was able to understand that they were not celebrating it’s tragic end, but instead, remembering it’s glorious beginnings.
As many of us are familiar with the basic story of the Titanic, it is easy to guess what part of the tour came next. The sinking of the “world’s largest ship” is something that is frequently portrayed in media (even still to this day), taught is classes, and generally just common knowledge because of its infamy. However, the stories and accounts that I saw made me question everything I thought I knew. Having gained most of my Titanic knowledge from the overly-romanticized film and many fiction books, I had no real sense of the tragedy happening behind the scenes. The crew and many news papers were given false information, leading many to believe they (or their loved ones) were safe, when they were really staring death in the face (or in the case of the falsely-printed papers, already dead).
After this experience, I have come to realize just how much of an influence media can have on us. It has made me question the relationships we all have with mass media, and how they often tend to tell us what they want us to hear; this can lead to biased news sources and inaccurate stories, both of which can have traumatic effects (case in point, the aforementioned Titanic information).
As I close this post, I will prepare for my final night in Belfast. I have absolutely loved the first part of my trip, and I am looking forward to embarking on a bus ride to the Republic of Ireland for the next leg!