“The Medium is the message…” – Marshall McLuhan
*30 seconds of elevator music*
All my life i never really took the time to understand why we all have mobile phones, why we all have Facebook, Tumblr or some sort social media platform. The fact is, for the most part, we are all part of a social media platform in one way or another. I sometimes find myself questioning the people I meet that don’t have a Facebook page “what do you mean you don’t have Facebook, that’s weird. Do you have the internet?” But the truth is, my generation is born into a society where we have more of a relationship with our screens than we do with people. Where I almost find myself thinking ” if you don’t have a Facebook page, how will I contact you and find out who you are as a person?” Its silly right? But when was the last time you went up to a stranger and said “hey can we be friends?” Me either. Yet it seems so much more normal to add random people on Facebook, than to physically interact with a complete stranger.
When I first heard this statement, I had no idea what it meant. I even slowly looked around to see if anyone was watching my face as I struggled to define this. This paradox that Marshall McLuhan was saying, is that the medium and the message are not just 2 different things that exist on their own, in fact the medium is the message. So what does this mean for me, for us and for society? As I type this I feel like I am repeating myself and maybe half of me still doesn’t really comprehend the true meaning of this statement, much more than we comprehend that we live this statement everyday. However, this meant that we live in a world where the message and medium are ever-changing and ever evolving. Because McLuhan has boldly stated that the medium IS the message, we first have to first understand what a medium is and what a message is. A medium, medius in Latin; Latin for middle, is a channel where a message or something that is passed through with an intended destination. The message is what what’s communicated. A new message is a creation because of a new medium. This changes the content. Us. The famous words by Marshall McLuhan “the medium is the message” is often shadowing the second part of its last statement “…the content is the audience.” McLuhan talks about in his publication Understanding Media, that no longer are we just receiving the information, but we are now delivering messages – a prosumer. This makes a lot of sense to me and the current society trends that we have. Take internet for an example. This is a broad definition of what a medium is. But within this medium, we can create a new medium to devise, post, tweet, video new forms information. In fact I am sending a message a through this medium (WordPress) which is within a medium, the internet. As new technologies are created (converged) so is a new medium. But also there is interpretation between different mediums for example Newspapers. They may send a message that may differ from the internet that talks about the same topic.
The smart phone is great example of convergence being used everyday. Where a normal telephone, and the world-wide web and, a GPS, and a camera etc are all converged into one. This convergence is important in understanding the medium is the message. Now not only are we capable of making phone calls to our friends but we can take a photo and upload it almost instantly after its taken. These new technologies have a strong impact in our society. It changes the way we interact thus creating a new message. McLuhan explains this theory in relation to a light bulb, that although this medium has no content it creates its own atmosphere sending a message that without light, there will be darkness. This type of symbolism I found to be very helpful in the way we understand media, technologies and the cultural and social implications of it. How it changes the message and how we change as the content. He further talks about foreseeing a new message before it happens. I think this is really important because not only can we see it happening , but this may also suggest that we may have the power to intervene. This one statement has had a great effect on me and how I see now see the world. Its strange what a few cryptic words can do to the thinking process.