“The medium is the message” – Marshall McLuhan.
So what does this mean?
The medium through which information is received influences and has a direct relationship with the message itself.
Think of the main media source in today’s society: the internet. It’s fast, full of misinformation, full of people claiming to be experts, but it can also be a valuable tool in research. This reflects society today. We want instant gratification. Blogging and web design removes gatekeepers and allows anyone to pose as an expert.
Not only does media influence our culture, it is our culture. Because of popular sites like Reddit, people can crowd source information on a large scale. We can anonymously ask embarrassing or sensitive questions without fear of repercussions.
Because we are so involved in our media consumption, it also influences our thinking. Big name YouTubers and Instagram models dictate our beauty standards. They tell us what to buy and what movies to see. When was the last time you walked into a restaurant without using Yelp or Google Reviews to make sure it was good? When was the last time you saw a film without looking up what the critics had to say?
Although we may assume we are a more freethinking society than times of old, in some ways we are not. Take for example the guest speaker, Scott. The population was influenced by what the Discovery Channel had to say about his work in Ghana. From his perspective, he was trying to be ethical and even worked hard to respect the culture there. From the perspective of others, he was disrespectful and harming their nation.
If we allow the media to tell us what to think, we’re not thinking at all.