Before I began my Social Media Strategies class, I had never heard of Marshall McLuhan. Now, after learning more about him, I think he’s one of the greatest dudes ever. Here’s why:
- He was probably one of the most clairvoyant scholars of the twentieth century. This is a clip from his interview on the CBC in 1960. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeDnPP6ntic. He says, “We are no longer so concerned with self-definition…we’re more concerned with what the group knows…of acting ‘with it’ (healthcarefuture, 2009).” I believe “it” in this case best describes the cultural discourse, and when this program was filmed, McLuhan was referring to the “new media” of television and other forms of telecommunication. This concept couldn’t be more relevant today. With the constant interconnectivity in our daily lives brought forth by social media, I would argue that we have completely abandoned true individuality in favor of current technological trends as a means of defining ourselves in a new gravity, namely, the digital forum.*
*And yet, this “new” interaction can be perceived as being just as richly humanistic as regular conversation. In Brian Solis’ book that I mentioned in my last post (which, if you haven’t bought and read cover-to-cover by now, you need to get on that), he explores online relationships and how they become meaningful and beneficial if all users are vested in them and seek to engage each other in order to improve the nature of the social networks (Solis, 2012 pg. 45). Basically, when you do anything online, there’s a very human emotion behind it, be it excitement, longing, passion, whatever. If a large enough contingent engages in such behavior, as is the case now, it further reinforces McLuhan’s predictions.
- McLuhan also speaks of the “global village (healthcarefuture, 2009)”. It should go without saying that this idea is fully present in culture and society. Now more than ever are we connected because of social media, and now at a pace a million times faster than the devices of fifty years ago. The responses to an event are evoked so instantaneously that they are almost concurrent with the event, bringing us all so close that it times it feels like we are in the same room, talking to each other face-to-face.
- I also want to discuss his famous saying, “the medium is the message”. I take that to mean that a message is perceived not just by its content, but how it is delivered. It would appear that today, however, this notion is antiquated due to the dedication people bring to their online relationships. Solis says, “The era of mass broadcasting and consumption is winding down only to be reborn through context and the relevant experiences of people and organizations we value (Solis, 2012 pg. 15).” As various avenues of communication might have been prevalent in the 1960’s, the new century has ushered in a diminishing use of those platforms in favor of something more accessible, portable, and widely accepted. In turn, people have chosen this new platform to share experiences and build relationships, and as a result, businesses have used the platform to not only capitalize on their products, but also to facilitate communication between them and their consumers.
Thus begins the new era of business with the new era of communications. That’s what’s up, ladies and gents.
healthcarefuture (2009, March 24). Marshall McLuhan – The World is a Global Village (CBC TV). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeDnPP6ntic.
Solis, B. (2012). The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.