Marshall McLuhan coined the term, ‘The medium is the message’, all the way back in 1964… before the rise of social media. Put simply, the phrase means that the medium through which content is portrayed influences the way the message is perceived.
Mediums are always changing – oral, written, audio, visual – and in turn, so is the message.
For example, radio not only extended messages to a larger scale of people, but also promoted more of a social experience than written mediums.
Changing mediums also influence who tells the messages.
For a long time, legacy media has controlled the messages to the people. What we see and hear… how and when.
However, the digital age has allowed us to develop from the role of a consumer, to that of a consumer and producer. This let’s individuals take information and recontextualise it.
The movement away from the product of legacy media towards the collaborative and free internet is also a movement away from conformity towards individualisation.
You could argue that the medium not only influences the message, but the evolution of mediums has influenced society. Perhaps this is what McLuhan meant by the medium being an extension of ourselves?
The internet has extended our experiences beyond our boundaries.
We have instant information at our fingertips from all over the world.
“‘The medium is the message’ tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium” – Mark Federman
We alter our vocabulary to fit the amount of text characters Twitter allows us.
We ‘like’ and ‘react’ to content on Facebook.
We ‘heart’ and caption snapshots of our lives on Instagram.