Does the medium influence more than just the message?

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.
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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.

It has also allowed people to produce, aggregate and curate their own content on social media platforms such as Twitch and Reddit.

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.

From Millionaire Youtubers, pro gamers, livestreaming … changes are definitely evident.

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5 thoughts on “Does the medium influence more than just the message?

  1. I really liked how you linked it back to social media as a new medium. Do you think features such as character restrictions on twitter and set reactions on Facebook take us back to legacy media in a way? We have the ability to be open and edit, but we are also limited to an extent by these restrictions.

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  2. I really loved your post, your memes are great! You made McLuhan’s concept of the ‘medium is the message’ relevant to today’s social media phenomenon as the changing mediums definitely affect how we participate. I agree that the internet allows us as users to be active and not passively observing. Your clear and concise writing allows me to understand the ‘medium is the message’ concept on a different level. I suggest this article – https://ijnet.org/en/blog/how-social-media-decided-dominated-and-directed-nigerian-elections as a further read into how social media can influence a political election, similar to the last U.S election. It’s definitely an exciting time to be studying media and communication, I look forward to see more of your posts!

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  3. The relevant videos and memes throughout the post to assist in your points is a good idea, I agreed on your point on the evolution of mediums influencing our society and being the deeper meaning possibly to what McLuhan once said. I agree that now our society now have free internet compared to back in the day where people weren’t able to make viral memes or spark up a heated debate in the comments of a particular post online and possibly change the message they are perceiving.

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  4. “We alter our vocabulary to fit the amount of text characters Twitter allows us.” This is an interesting thought and can be applied to many forms of online communication; “text talk” and inserting emojis in the place of words. I certainly agree that society has reformed conversation to fit with new forms of social media and I see it bleeding out into real life, face-to-face conversation too; hmu, ily, smh are used in real life conversation and it has become the norm. Certain emojis have been appropriated to have new meanings and this too can be seen in everyday life. There’s a pretty funny except from Jimmy Kimmel showing the appropriation of emojis if you’re up for a laugh? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUMl6S_KNj4)

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