The Medium is the Message
Tigranes the Great, King of Armenia, died in 55 BC, but not before leaving the world with a metaphorical admonition about not killing the messenger when bad news arrives at our doorstep. Although his example hardly meets with the moral code of the Western world in 2017, the subject matter is as fresh as ever.
Marshall McLuhan in his controversial work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964, warned us that the Age of Technology would alter our societal perceptions to our detriment, if we were to blindly submit like sheep to technological cultural messages brainwashing the masses via television and other media. Some of McLuhan’s ideas were out there, but many have come to fruition, especially his famous proposition that “the medium is the message.”
Think about that. McLuhan suggested that modern communication has been so affected by technology as to cause distortions of the truth. Could it be that the medium through which we receive information relevant to our society has become more important than the content of the messages communicated? Be honest. Do we tend to believe what we hear on radio, see on TV, or read on social media, while denying more credible first-hand accounts of happenings?
Take the television news media, for example. Do citizens receive the information they seek when they click on their favorite channel, or does the perception of the news medium overshadow the content of the public communication? Do we seek the truth, or do we long to hear what we want to hear regardless of the accuracy of the information? I fear it is the latter.
Unless we figure a way of stopping the twenty-first century electronic messenger from delivering falsities, we in America and elsewhere will find ourselves serving the inanimate media created to serve us. It sounds like science fiction, but it is not. I watched the news on TV this morning.
. . .