How does media affect our lives?
First of all, I would say that the media determines just about everything we know or think we know. For example, I have no proof, outside of the media, that Barack Obama even exists or that there is a place called Afghanistan.
Second, I would say that the media affect what we expect in our personal lives. We see people living their lives in particular ways on TV programs, for example, and we base our expectations for our own lives on what we see. This goes for advertisements as well.
So the media affects us by giving us our information about the world and by changing our expectations about what our lives should be like.
Media is our source of both information and entertainment, and in the last ten years or so, it is getting increasingly difficult to tell which one of those the media is attempting to do most effectively. Americans are quite "plugged in" as a society. We have hundreds of channels, listen to iPods and Podcasts, often own more than one TV, play the radio in the car, and are bombarded by advertising in every form. All that being said, media tends to reflect what society thinks and wants rather than media influencing and shaping what we think to a great degree. We tend to watch shows with viewpoints we agree with.