Deus ex Media?

Three views of mass communications: Transmission, Medium, Cultural.

Transmission. Power of the financiers. Fewer than 8 companies own the majority of the world’s media outlets. People. Are. Dupes.

[ Sender --> message --> transmitter --> channel -- receiver --> destination. ] The model of the media industry. Effective. Controlled. Mass Communications deliver a product.

Internet the Transmission killer?

Medium. McLuhan, one of the prominent figures of the media studies’ world, suggested, along with a number of other analysts during his time period, that the message
is
irrelevant.

It matters not what is said
or heard
or felt

It is all about the medium itself. The medium dictates the lifestyle that people live while utilizing it, and it is that change in lifestyles that is the important factor in the power of the media and mass communications.

Forget the rich people. Forget the effect of the propaganda’s content. The delivery, the power behind the message — that is to say, the medium itself — is the truly affecting force.

Take, for example, the television (which was the prime focus for McLuhan). The television can carry any sort of signal, in his opinion, and still have the same result on the psyche of the society. Unlike written and auditory media, which had previously been the mainstream source of information for the public, the electronic forms of information “work us over completely,” making us use far more of our sense than ever before. Our society, which has hitherto been a primarily visual one, is suddenly caught up in the rush of excitement that is brought forth through the combination of the senses. No longer are we able to accept singular stimuli. It must be in combinations; our inclination towards text is dimished.

But to ignore money, in our capitalistic society, is perhaps a bit too theoretical and too little practical?


Cultural. Binding together. those pieces that would otherwise be separate. Individuals count. They are not dupes nor are the “senders” all-powerful. Rather, the media depend on the support of the people about them. The media somehow fulfill a role in the lives of the masses, or otherwise there would be no reason for its success.

People matter, in all forms. The individuals who are receivers do not passively accept what is sent. They interact with it, make decisions about it. In many ways, media become a ritual for the receivers.

For those putting it forth, the media are centered around profit. They, too, are people, and their motivations count. To see the media machine as being controlled by some faceless enterprise manipulating those beneath them is foolish… they have their desires, their prejudices, and their limits.


MY view. The Internet has changed the scope of individual participation. With television, radio, writing, etc., there was always a producer and an audience. With the Internet, the age has come when interacting through media is as simple as having a conversation. There are no clear givers and takers, because every taker has the potential to give back. Prime example? This blog.


As a result, the Cultural view of mass communications has become the predominant one of our age. Also relevant, in my mind, is the Medium view of mass communications. The power of the media themselves is easy to overlook, especially in a day and age when we hear regularly about the influence of advertisements, of movies, and other such media. The focus of these precautions is clearly the messages contained in the medium, not the medium itself. The overlooked factor is that the medium decided the style of life around it. McLuhan draws heavily upon evidence of Reading causing a predominantly visual society. Television, on the other hand, encourages a multifaceted sensual experience. It is entirely normal for a person to sit at a desk, typing out their blog while listening to music and checking out what other blogs have commented on recently. This multitasking of sensory systems is something that electronic media have instituted. However, to say that the message itself has no power is ridiculous. A single message may not alter our lives the way a single innovative technology will, but a thousand such messages may.


However, while the latter two views of mass communications may be more relevant to today’s world, corporate delivery must not be completely ignored. While there is the potential for a completely individualized internet, there are still major players who control a huge portion of the market. In much the same way as Newspapers, which are “unbiased”, the Internet provides an “individual” experience while still being dictated by those who control the resources.


The key to true freedom of communications? There is none, as long as capitalism is the dominant global economic system If people are driven by their desire for money, inevitably even if individuals should manage to develop a superior product, those individuals will become corporate with time due to the drive for financial reimbursement for the time and effort required for developing the product. And while the cultural view maintains that the corporation is a group of individuals, there is no denying that figured such as Bill Gates are no longer responsible for the majority of decisions made concerning the company. The only influence on decisions is economic, and as long as that is the case, the goal of advertising will be to influence the masses into buying products, which is ideally (for the company) the result of the masses absorbing the information passively and acting on the desires placed in them. Companies will continue to aspire to make us sponges, as long as capitalism and economic gain are the primary motivating factors of our society.

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