The Internet has a large impact on the way modern culture works. We IM eat other to get together for lunch. We send emails to keep in touch with long lost friends. We use websites for research instead of actual libraries and tangible books. The Internet is considered to be a blessing by some, and a curse by others. Without the Internet, we might still be writing letters to each other. Without the Internet, print journalism would not be at risk.
Marshall McLuhan, a media philosopher, believes that the media has some significant impacts on man. In an interview with Playboy Magazine, entitled “The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan,” McLuhan states that, “the use of the electronic media constitutes a break boundary between fragmented Gutenberg man and integral man, just as phonetic literacy was a break boundary between oral-tribal man and visual man.” The Internet is an extremely aesthetic tool, and McLuhan hypothesized that the transition to an image based culture causes numerous distresses in our society. The Internet’s purpose is to supply us with information. However, humans have learned to abuse the web, and treat is as a ubiquitous communication tool. This is extremely harmful to our natural instincts, and we are easily lost in a world of visual words and images.
Why is it that humans are so mesmerized by the Internet and advancements in technology? If it takes us away from a natural state of being, are we considered to be any less human? Perhaps it is because we are stimulated by the ability to connect in so many ways by the Internet. Maybe it is because we can escape the realities of everyday life with the click of a mouse. Or maybe humans are just curious about something new and complex, and are stimulated by the Internet’s capacity to operate.
Based on those assumptions, shifting from a world made of completely organic material to a technologically advanced environment does seem to take away from a natural existence. The oral tradition of communication is almost obsolete with the capabilities of the Internet, which is the most basic form of human interaction. It is undeniable that most people do not consider the implications of the Internet, and McLuhan acknowledges this with his “fish out of water theory.” This theory states that we cannot know our surroundings until we experience something new. Such a theory leads me to question what new technologies will evolve in the future that will help us to see and comprehend the effect of the Internet on our current lives. We need to consider the Internet’s influence on our lives now, before we are completely stripped of natural abilities.
Moreover, it is important to discuss Neil Postman in regards to the growing influence of the Internet. In an address called “The Humanism of Media Ecology,” Postman writes, “A medium is a technology within which a culture grows; that is to say, it gives form to a culture’s politics, social organization, and habitual ways of thinking.” From this, one can obtain an accurate definition of a medium. We can see that the Internet is a medium that allows an online culture to grow. The Internet creates a vast network of ethics, interaction, and personal entertainment to the entire world. It is the medium that unites human beings through social connections, provides online advertising, and allows convenient access to news and important information. The Internet is a source of anything media related, and provides us with knowledge on any topic we desire. Postman concluded that this interaction between humans and the media provide a culture with character and symbolic balance, which is demonstrated through all of the above criteria.
Obviously, the idea of the Internet has become quite controversial. Without it, some art forms would still be in existence. Without it, our culture would not be as efficient as it has become. So, is the Internet a blessing or a curse?
(This is Blog Topic #2: The Ecology of Media)
Postman, Neil. “The Humanism of Media Ecology.” Media Ecology Association. 17 June 2000. Web. 9 Oct. 2009. <http://www.media- ecology.org/publications/MEA_proceedings/v1/humanism_of_media
“The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan.” Playboy Magazine. March 1960. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~gisle/links/mcluhan/pb.html>.