When renowned scholar Marshall McLuhan uttered the notable words "the medium is the message," various interpretations arise: What is the medium and what is its message? Where is the medium sending the message? Can the medium actually be the message?
In 2012, the answer to these questions can be answered in the colloquial saying "it's not what you say, but how you say it." Ever receive a text message that reads "lol" and you're not amused? Ever saw a YouTube video that was so hilarious that you almost dropped your laptop? Being guilty of both of these experiences, I can honestly admit that the new mediums that are producing news today are shaping the very way we see it.
Whether it is waiting on the brink of your seat to see what rant Kanye West will tweet out next, 21st century media not only allows us to observe the news, but also be a part of it. Nowhere in history could you see part of your television screen have the opinions of others during a presidential debate until now. Where else in history could you be able to be up to date on anything from fashion to politics at the click of an app? Today, that medium that McLuhan once said was the message is now a bold statement.
The way I view the world around me seems more connected due to the way news circulates in this new age of information. The mediums we now have today are allowing us to feel very close relationships with strangers, even if thousands of miles away. My friend studying abroad in England is able to Skype me and catch up on my life from day to day. However, she is also able to be up to date on my current high times and hardships on Facebook as a friend. For instance, the moment I posted on my Facebook status that Arianna Huffington was coming to Penn, she immediately texted me how jealous she was that she was so far away. And then I simplely texted back that infamous, "lol."
Yet despite the aesthetically pleasing attributes that 21st century media brings to the world, what I love most about all of this is that we have further enhanced the quality of democracy and freedom of expression. The Arab Spring would not have been as impactful if not for the very potent Twitter revolution that took place. People would not have as much access to free education and information if not for the search engines of Google and Yahoo. And lastly, people wouldn't be able to have such a freedom to voice their opinions if not for the variety of web blogs and social sites that actively encourage diverse discussion.
Yes, I tweet obsessively, I blog passionately, I Skype hilariously, I Facebook impulsively, I Instagram vainly, I text rapidly, and I sometimes do all of these things simultaneously. Yes, the medium is the message, but in 2012 it is MY message.
Follow Ernest Owens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrErnestOwens