Meditations on the Medium as the Message
The Internet is the most sophisticated communication medium to hit our species.
It is probably the single most important human invention ever created when rated in its transformative capabilities.
Its full dawning could not have been imagined even by the 1960s media guru Marshall McLuhan.
A giant of a thinker on the effects of print and electronic media for the collective life of human consciousness, he was prescient in his anticipation of electronic media’s ability to paradigm shift. The power of mass media as designed and employed in the first world industrial nations is a case in point. McLuhan speaks about the coming epoch technology is creating.
“Whenever a new environment goes around an old one there is always terror. We live in a time when we have put a man-made satellite environment around the planet. The planet is no longer nature, it is no longer the natural world, it’s now the content of an artwork. Nature has ceased to exist…the environment is not visible, it’s electronic.”
He sums up the effects of the increasing use of electronic communication artifacts on global culture with:
“An electronic world re-tribalizes man.”
Could the Internet be the “Global Village” McLuhan saw?
It has risen only recently to mass use recently, on a scale of decades. Its network is entering our evolutionary stream and changing the game.
In order for something like this global social nervous system to effect real change in our daily lives, we will need to start using this awesome tool more fully.
The problem is that the Internet requires the energy infrastructure that feeds it. In order to operate on the level of a societal agent of change, WiFi will need to be more widely proliferated into the third world. The fact that energy and Internet are not abundant and accessible enough to an appreciable percentage of the world’s population presents a species-level communication problem.
The world sorely needs free, clean, energy for this reason. (a la Tesla) In effect, capitalism and its goals of gaining a customer base and charging consumers for energy is retarding this endeavor. We have left socialism behind as a model, so a new one must be engineered. Under the current model of greed, power, and exploitation the internet and all utilities are commodities to be traded.
This paradigm of uneven energy distribution is causing much inequality and suffering in the world. This is even addressed the modern media and collective myth via Hollywood. For some big-ticket examples try the 2012 dynamic duo: The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. Both films deal with the race to realize free, clean energy before it is weaponized by the bad guys.
We all know that free energy is what we need. To transition to this kind of system, radical revisions must be made. Maybe something like a Netflix subscription, where the consumer has autonomy and decides how many basic utilities to pay for. Water, gas, electricity, and perhaps even high-speed Internet need to come under such a micro-transactional model. Ideally, these resources would be completely free to everyone in a sane, abundance-minded society. However as the transition need not be abrupt, this intermediate is a step forward.
The goal here is communication. At this level in the evolution of language, unmitigated exchange of information between two or more conscious agents is greatly anticipated. We need to banish the prejudices that have kept us from truly understanding one another. Issues with language’s misunderstanding, deception, and subterfuge could be mitigated by the open operation of online channels.
If two people or even nations could truly communicate, there would likely be self-emergent and empathetic understanding. Aggressive or violent linguistic intent would dissolve because you are no longer operating on incomplete information. Memes and information would be allowed to arise and flow naturally.
Information has always been the most important resource on earth, and likely in the universe. It is the concept that gives all others their value. It seems to be the primary datum transmitted and conserved by space and time, matter and energy.
Information as it is transmitted culturally or memetically has come to dominate the communication landscape. McLuhan often talks of the whole planet being bathed in a cloud of electronic media exchange.
Speaking about the world being a Show Business, McLuhan, of course, realized the power of the media and advertising to control humanity.
The control and distribution of information has always been in play. Information brokers have at least heavily influenced, and at worst been at the helm of all human history in the propagation of culturally-sanctioned language. All the world really is a stage.
Image source: azquotes.com
McLuhan promoted famously “the medium is the message,” and when considered for the artist, or the social critic, or even the blog user, this phrase takes on a whole new meaning for the modern Internet 2.0 Age.
Let’s use the Internet to spread beneficial, empowering, and humane memes to one another through organized social media.
To begin, I invite you to start noticing your morning Facebook rituals and media diet. Don’t fill your feed with junk food. We are overdue for the proper harnessing of this most powerful electronic communication force.