I fear we’re losing the message to the medium.
McLuhan was right – the medium is the message. But when McLuhan wrote his works, he was living in a time when media evolved in serial stages – that is, for hundreds of years, print dominated; then for decades radio came along; and then television.
Each of these media had their own particular influence on our senses: print enhanced our visual processing while dampening our oral tradition; radio somewhat brought back our oral tradition; and television further enhanced our visual and auditory senses.
Before the Web, people had time to adapt to these media because they came along in different stages. Media evolved serially in time.
But today the Web is evolving all different kinds of media at the same time. Today’s media evolve parallel in time.
The Web is mother of all media.
The influences of these ever-evolving/devolving media come at us at once – not over centuries nor decades, nor even years but months.
So if the media are the messages, what are we talking about? What’s being said? What are we losing?
Soon, our immersion in these media – by choice or not – will mean that the messages we send and receive are the media we use.
The implication of the medium is the message is that the message is a prisoner of the medium!
But there’s something wrong about that. There must be some rescuing element.
We simply can’t be social if the messages we send each other are not messages but media.
So how can we snatch back the message from the medium?
I argue that the rescuing element is Art.
I argue that Art is Technology’s creative twin.
Art has always been Able to Technology’s Cain.
And yet, Art always resurrects. “Art is eternal.” You never heard that about Technology, did you?
While Technology advances according to what’s created, Art creates what advances.
Art is our creation of meaning. Meaning, not the medium, should be the message.
If you want to have a meaningful life in a time where media are proliferating at an an unprecedented and ruthless pace, I suggest you do the work of creating the meaning instead of making turkey stuffing for media.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lone individual expressing your passion or a multinational corporate enterprise: if most of what you’re doing is fueling the medium with messages, you won’t create meaning.
Any enterprise without meaning is just a shell – an empty medium propogating meaninglessness.
The way to rescue the message from the medium is to keep at the message.
Forget focusing on the media so much – create! create! create!
Create the message so full with meaning that it bursts right out of the medium.