Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), the great predictor of the online technology and internet era advanced the notion that since the beginning of the use of language, the medium for communication has become just as important or even more important than the thoughts and ideas it conveys. In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), he famously declares that “the medium is the message.”
In his 1964 book he divides media into “hot” and “cool” that delineates the differences between visual media like movies that requires less individual participation (hot) and media such as writing, television and interacting (cool) that requires more participation. I am sure that he would have characterized today’s World Wide Web as the “coolest.”
Marshall McLuhan also talks about the dramatic effect and the feeling of dislocation that comes from advances in technology. One of his quotes in this regard states that, “innumerable confusions and a feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transition.”
We are in one of those periods as “electronic culture replaces visual culture” and many of us that did not grow up during this change wish for a more simple life of going to the movies to get both our news and entertainment. Also, some of us look to upgrade our televisions to flat screens not aware or thinking that flat screens offer more than just a television medium.
The March for Our Lives Movement is being played out both in the streets and online. The leaders David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez are growing up with the mastery of this medium and its technology.
The use of marches on local, regional and national levels are also media event opportunities to foment change. This goes to McLuhan thinking that “the medium is the message.”
The marches are the visual message to America that there is new sheriff in town. The enforcers have the numbers and technical tools to exert their will on a country that is in need of direction.
Their technical culture was elegantly demonstrated in the latest clash with Laura Ingraham, host of the Fox News evening program, “The Ingraham Angle.” She retweeted and added to a message that made fun of David Hogg’s unsuccessful applications to 4 California universities even with a 4.2 Grade Point Average that is significantly good.
Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Massacre responded by asking his followers to contact the advertisers of the show and demand they discontinue their sponsorship. So far, 16 companies including Nutrish, Stitchfix, Expedia, TripAdvisors, Wayfair, Johnson and Johnson, Nestle USA, Hulu, Office Depot, the Atlantis Paradise Resort, Honda, Liberty Mutual, Progressive Insurance, Jenny Craig and the Principal global investment group have done so.
Ingraham has gone on “vacation” to see if this can stop the bleeding. However, the electronic media and its images of 800,000 marchers in Washington DC plus the millions around the world the country and the world are having the desired effect for the young people.
The talk is that there are plans for 700 more local, regional and national marches this year, at least 1 for every Congressional race in 2018. That would be a powerful statement from the new generation.
By the way, it is ironic that Steve King, a Republican from Iowa criticized Emma Gonzalez for wearing a Cuban flag and not knowing Spanish. I am surprised that he appears to value the Spanish language since he is a well-known national purveyor of English Only and has expressed racial and ethnic favorites.