Tuesday 5 March 2013

Why did mobile phones and social networking turn out to be mere extensions and amplifiers of the mass media?


It seems clear that the spread in usage of mobile phones and internet social networking websites of the Facebook type has been an exacerbation, a continuation of the trend, of the mass media  - and an extension and deepening of secular hedonism and alienation.


Yet, in principle, if we had not experienced the opposite, it might be supposed that by keeping people in touch more of the time, the influence of the mass media would be held-back - that by people-interacting-with-people for more of the time, and with more people, the ideology of the mass media would be blocked.


(Just as so many people - including myself - used to suppose that the internet would combat the domination by 'official' news media, to facilitate an informed society where everybody discovered the real facts behind the propaganda, and formed their own opinions. Ha! - How utterly and completely wrong can anyone be!)  


This is obviously not the case, and the interpersonal media are instead serving as an addiction and a distraction: an addictive distraction.

In theory, the new interpersonal media should strengthen marriage and family relations by keeping the members in-touch; in practice these media are at the heart of a society zealously engaged in the coercive destruction of families.


The main consequence of pervasive social communication media is that people are out of touch with their environment for more of the time, that they never self-remember, that they are prevented from experiencing the life they are in.

In the recent past, a person walking alone might be stimulated to look around, listen, smell, feel the air flowing past them - be where they are. Not now.

They almost never experience the here and the now. 


Once again, the prime insight of Marshall McLuhan has been confirmed - that the primary effect of media is indifferent to content.

The fact of interpersonal mass media has an effect which quite overwhelms the specifics of interpersonal information exchange via these media.


So, it hardly matters what is said, or heard, or seen via these media; the major consequence of the fact of the medium is vastly more powerful than the specifics of  communication.


This explains how it is that our society has been able to absorb such incredible changes as the internet and ubiquitous mobile phones and vast social networking websites while - at a fundamental level - having been unaffected by them.

And without any significant overall economic benefits - indeed, increasingly obvious deep damage to economic productivity in the sense that Western societies have simply given-up even trying to run an economy.

The trends in place before the internet have continued. The advent and growth of the internet was imperceptible at a mass level of analysis.  


We do not control these media; they control us.


So interpersonal communications media are part of the mass media.

And the mass media is the primary domain of evil in our society, here and now.

Not only and not mostly in the sense of being loaded with accidental and deliberately corrupting communications of evil; but in the primary sense that the addictive distraction of the mass media is anti-good, is a turning-away-from reality (and therefore God).


It is the fact of the medium which is the essence - and this fact is a fact: engagement can be moderated but participation is mandatory.



dearieme said...

As a child I conceived a dislike for people with cameras - on holidays they seemed to be spending their time recording things rather than enjoying things. Call it the Kodak effect. I take it that yer soeshul meedyur is the same thing, amplified.

Anonymous said...

If participation in evil is mandatory, then suicide is necessary (especially for those who believe that death terminates consciousness and is itself without consequences, (which is what the media teaches). Evil is Live spelled backwards.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - Yes, the attitude seems to be 'I'll enjoy this later...' - and later never actually arrives.

@A - I think I agree - absent the atoning forgiveness of Christ (or some equivalent), the situation is apparently hopeless.

Samson J. said...

The main consequence of pervasive social communication media is that people are out of touch with their environment for more of the time, that they never self-remember, that they are prevented from experiencing the life they are in.

Yep, this is why I've cut out most of my blog-reading (with some exceptions!).

ajb said...

No, the effects of a given media depend on the characters of the people using it.

If what is forming their character is fundamentally secular or hedonistic, then the new media will simply tend to perpetuate that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - Character makes a quantitative difference - but qualitatively the media shifts everyone in the same direction.

Regular Reader said...

Because they became visual.

If they had remained text only for some reason the effect of the mass media would have been moderated, or even meaningfully usurped by the text-adept.

The Continental Op said...

Speaking of cameras--I was in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Anytime I go into a cathedral I have what I think is the designed-for reaction--my eyes and heart are swept upward. I sit and pray, and meditate, and reflect, and then stroll around. I took a few pictures, but outside; mainly to have a few pictures to remember my visit, and show my family when I got home. If I really wanted full documentation of the structure and its insides, I could get a picture book, done by a pro.

However, I noticed the mass of people generally was more interested in each doing their own picturebook. With cheap cameras, there is no way they could get quality pictures. They were more concerned with documenting their visit than enjoying their visit. It occurred to me that they were hollow, this is how they experienced life: documenting it with pictures or tweets or facebook status updates. It's the same with "bucket lists" (perhaps just an American term); you go through your list of things to do in life, so you can check them off and say you did them.

C. said...

Yes, the main thing is not the documenting but *showing others after.* I find myself doing this too. Rarely, it's for non-selfish reasons (family members or friends who want to know what I've been up to and genuinely enjoy the pictures). More often, I think, it's so that others will see what I've been doing, so that my life seems worthwhile.

I believe Pascal noted the same thing quite a while ago...

Concur said...

I've noticed the same behavior as ContinentalOps, only in musuems. Next time you attend one, I'm sure you'll notice how many times you will find yourself surrounded by people who are doing anything but observing the artifacts before them.

The most humorous behavior I often witness is watching ethusiastic people zipping through a museum to take a picture of themselves in front of the displayed object. I'm sure the camera, oftentimes, cannot capture the object they are supposedly witnessing; and more noticeably, these people will often not even take so much as a glance at the object, so they have no clue what is going on. You might be surprised at how far you can get in a museum and not even look around.