The dreaded words: THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE (Say what?)
Although it is often difficult to understand this concept, due to its abstract and philosophical background, it is one of the most important and interesting concepts in communication studies. It shows the interdependent relationship between what the message is and how it is communicated and, ultimately, perceived by audiences.
Halliedominick (2012) uses an easy historical reference to condense the idea of this, first created by Marshall McLuhan:
“The wheel is our medium and the action of it rolling is the message. Our message is motion. Motion is of no use without the wheel. We view motion as it is through the rolling of the wheel”
McLuhan felt the medium was more important than the message itself as it could be the deciding factor between whether your message was received by the audiences or not, and how it was perceived. As the quote states, there is no use for a message without a medium. Mediums allow for a broader scale of both audience and understanding and in modern life, everything is a medium-shoes, shirts, bags. (Think of any modern item, it will communicate a message to you, somehow)
The nature of mediums has changed dramatically due to the rapid increase of internet activity and the creation of ‘memes’ as a medium. Memes have shown how people can use different mediums for some controversial topics in a simple form and how they can reach a wider audience.
Memes are defined as: ” a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable ” (emme, 2003). They are used for multiple reasons and can help generate, alter and demonstrate issues within society in comedic quick pieces of information, that have some underlying meaning that audiences will begin to question. They are effective mediums for quick and easy communication and their simple formatting allows everyone to engage in them, making them an even more powerful medium of choice.
halliedominick, 2012, What Does “The Medium Is The Message” Really Mean?, HDOMINICK, blog post, viewed 15th March 2017, https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/halliedominick/2012/02/28/what-does-the-medium-is-the-message-really-mean/
emme, 2003, MEME, urban dictionary, viewed 15th March 2017, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meme