Does the medium we use when we connect with others change our message? Does it matter if we say something via text, Facebook, Skype or Twitter? As technology continues to expand, and we are constantly connected and connecting with others, does the format we use change how a message is received or are the feelings and ideas behind that message perceived differently with different mediums?
Back in 1964 Marshall McLuhan first discussed this idea in his famous study “Understanding Media: The extension of Man”. He looked at the way getting a message via different mediums actually determines the way the message is perceived and thus coined the phrase “The medium is the message”. Hearing about a tragedy via a radio broadcast for example, does not have the same impact were we to witness it live via satellite, with moving pictures on our screens. Now Marshall wasn’t around to witness the expansion of the media to include the internet, but his study still forms the basis of many concepts relating to how we send and receive messages and it is possibly even more relevant today with the advances of technology and the online world.
Do you think about how your message may be received differently if you send a message via Facebook as opposed to an email or a phone call? Is this something our kids will need to be more conscious of when it comes to understanding how they want to be perceived?
I often wish people a Happy Birthday via Facebook. I think it is kind of nice to take a few seconds to let that person know you are thinking of them. My closer friends however, I always ring. They need to know that my message to them is possibly more heartfelt as I would always have rung them in the past. To me therefore, the medium of a phone is more meaningful than an email, Facebook, tweet or text. It is that personal connection that needs to take place. I also want them to know that I am not saying Happy Birthday simply because it popped up on my screen when I logged on to Facebook. I want them to know that I knew their birthday was coming up. It is hand written in my paper diary.
What about Christmas cards? Will you send them this year? Will you instead make an online card and email it out to all on your contact list? Will you tweet a ‘Merry Christmas’ or Facebook a photo of your family draped in tinsel? Or do you feel you already have enough contact with your friends online that you don’t need to bother? After all, they will see my photos from Christmas Day, I will like their status update about a new present, I will comment on their beautifully decorated Christmas tree via Instagram and I will repin the recipe for their famous eggnog onto my Pinterest board. Does all this extra communication and connecting mean it is less or more personal than a hand written card?
The advances in technology have certainly had an enormous impact on the way we connect and communicate, but do you think it is making us more or less connected?
Do you think about how you want a message to be conveyed when you decide what medium to use, whether you want to say hello via Facebook, Twitter or email? Or is it purely a convenience factor?
(Lots of questions in this post, mainly because I am still pondering it all…..so feel free to add your thoughts on any of them!!)