McLuhan starts off his book by sharing the theory that “the medium, or progress, of our time –electronic technology-is reshaping and reconstructing patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, every institution formally taken for granted” (8). I, for one, have thought about this idea countless times. I spend time hanging out with friends and when we are together there are breaks, recesses from our experience together when everyone turns to their cell phone. There is silence in the room, unless we have music playing in the background, and everyone is heads down, staring straight into the 4×2.5 inch screen they keep so present it has become an extension of their hand. Writing this in the mid twentieth century, the television had just become introduced and popularized. His same thoughts are being processed in my mind in an age where there are new Apple “i” and “mac” products just as often as the seasons change. To think that McLuhan saw this invasion of technology and recognized it’s possible influence on society and experienced concern or fear about it makes me wonder where the world is heading in terms of culture and communication.
Today the majority of developed societies live desensitized to the fact that we are detaching ourselves from the people we claim to care about the most in our lives and the things that are supposedly most important to us and give our time and energy into people who only communicate with us through (social) media. Relationships between practially everyone is now handled in a completely different way than ten, twenty, thirty years ago. “Everything is changing…including your relation to “the others” (8), McLuhan says, but even the relationships we have within ourselves are different. A student today learns, studies, and gains an education in a way that was literally impossible a generation ago. Submitting assignments online, viewing Internet based short videos on smart boards in class, and taking notes on a computer instead of by hand are all examples that can point out how differently the learning process is. Having a physical pen and paper and taking notes does something different in learning than when typing on a computer, however that could become irrelevant as technology progresses; typing on the computer will become the first way children learn how to write and from there a new invention will continue to sweep the world onto its constant force of advancement.
I think it is safe to say that the author had concern and maybe a hint of fear towards the epidemic of media that has infected every aspect of life. I too share that fear, and worry that human-to-human relationships will become obsolete and indirect communication (indirect in this case because it is not face to face, the most direct you can get), will take its place. I know that everyone isn’t going to turn into absolute homebodies who get shivers at the thought of leaving their computer to go into direct sunlight, but I don’t see how our obsession with technology won’t rest, but try and convince me otherwise.
What do you think about the societal shift into a digital age?
Try to imagine your parents or grandparents at your age, how do you think they socialized with their peers? Compare it to today, look at the differences, think about the pros and cons of our methods of communication, but weigh your judgments by the experience and quality of communication that we have, not efficiency or assistance to disabilities or anything else.