|12-17-2007, 11:29 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Cyber bullying: Technology and McLuhan
Cyber bullying: Technology and McLuhan
The cruel mob pursued 13 year old Megan Meier through our high tech “social networking site MySpace and called Megan a liar, a fat whore and worse”.
Megan, 13, fought back, but she was overwhelmed. “Mom, they’re being horrible!” Megan said, “sobbing into the phone when her mother called. After an hour, Megan ran into her bedroom and hanged herself with a belt.”
“She felt there was no way out,” Ms. Meier said.
McLuhan has stated that all technology is an extension of a human faculty. The ‘bomb is an extension of the fist’ is a simple example.
“The Medium is The Message” is the phrase that made Marshall McLuhan famous. It is a phrase most of us, young and old, have heard. Until recently this was a mysterious phrase that left me speechless.
Let’s get very fundamental here and go back to the invention of the alphabet to understand what McLuhan is talking about and why it is important.
“The Greek myth about the alphabet was that Cadmus, reputedly the king who introduced the phonetic letters into Greece, sowed dragoon’s teeth, and they sprang up armed men. Like any other myth, this one capsulates a prolonged process into a flashing insight. The alphabet meant power and authority and control of military structures at a distance. When combined with papyrus, the alphabet spelled the end of the stationary temple bureaucracies and the priestly monopolies of knowledge and power.”
“The phonetic alphabet is a unique technology…This stark division and parallelism between a visual and an auditory world was both crude and ruthless, culturally speaking. The phonetically written sacrifices worlds of meaning and perception that were secured by forms like the hieroglyphs and the Chinese ideogram. These culturally richer forms of writing, however, offered men no means of sudden transfer from the magically discontinuous and traditional world of the tribal word into the cool and uniform visual medium.”
“All of these forms [pictographic and hieroglyphic] give pictorial expression to oral meanings. As such, they approximate the animated cartoon and are extremely unwieldy, requiring many signs for the infinity of data operations of social action. In contrast, the phonetic alphabet, by a few letters only, was able to encompass all languages.”
Consider the invention of the printing press and the introduction of books to the society. A book communicates a message. Many books communicate many messages. ‘The book’ communicates the same message to everyone who comes into contact with the book. The book transmits the same message to everyone while many books transmit many different messages to many different people.
Evolution moves very slowly. We adapt to our environment very slowly. We survive because we do adapt. When we change more quickly than we can adapt we face problems that we have not had the time to make the kind of adjustments necessary.
The habits we acquire determine our state of mind. Our changing habits are part of this process of adaptation to our environment. Do not think of environment as being just the quality of our air or water but it is a broad term signifying the world we live in.
So we have changed very dramatically our habits that were part of us when we knew little and understood much. I am speaking relatively here. What happens to us as a result of this dramatic change? I do not know but I only point to the fact as worth consideration.
Examine how we sit and watch TV for several hours everyday. When we watch TV we are constantly being transported perceptively from one scene to another. Think for a minute if instead of sitting and watching TV we were physically escorted done a hallway with many doors. Then we open a door and are physically placed into this world we see on TV. Our reaction would be very different. In other words we are creatures prepared for a certain world that no longer exists. This is the definition of a forthcoming extinction if we think about the meaning of evolution.
Has our technology become our master? I think so.
This story about Megan by Christopher Maag, “When the Bullies Turned Faceless” was published in the December 17 edition of the NYTimes.
|12-18-2007, 06:23 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
The book is the medium. The book makes us a very different people. We have a much different frame of mind resulting from books than before books. The content in a book is insignificant as compared to the reality of books. The content of a book may change many lives but the book as a medium as a new technology changes the life of the species for ever.
If technology forces us forward faster than we can adapt we will fall. Just as a runner falls if she leans over further than her legs can come forward and support her weight.
If we can control our technology we can better control our fate. If we fail to comprehend our relationship with technology then we will fail to survive because we cannot adapt fast enough. We create our culture. Our culture is artificial just as most of the human life is about artificial values. We create what we live, die, and kill for.
Our habits determine our fate to a large extent. Our habits, just like the habits of an athlete will determine success. Our habits prepare us for the now. Now is no time to change habits—habits control what we can or cannot do at the moment action is required. This includes especially our habits of mind. If we do not form an honest mind we will not behave honestly intellectually when the time requires it. This is what CT (Critical Thinking) is partially about. By studying CT we are creating the proper set of intellectual habits that we will guide us in the future.
I think that McLuhan had great insight and is well worth the effort to comprehend.
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