After reading Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Men a couple chapters stood out, from which my group’s activities and discussion were based on.
Chapter 4 – The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis
The mediated technology numbs us.
“The principle of numbness comes into play with electric technology, as with any other. We have to numb our central nervous system when it is extended and exposed, or we will die. Thus the age of anxiety and of electric media is also the age of unconscious and of apathy” (McLuhan, 2013, p 51).
This article from UCLA’s Newsroom from 2011, brings up an interesting point regarding the connectedness of people and how desensitized they have become to horrors seen online (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/is-the-internet-killing-empathy-193294 ).
Even though this seems quite negative, there is a new wave of technology developers that put humans in the center of development. In this article from Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/11/20/empathy-technologies-humanity-at-the-heart-of-emerging-tech/#3e67c3f82870 ), Dianne Wilkins talks about how technology businesses are becoming more human-centric as a way to give purpose to their developments.
Maybe technology has pushed us toward numbness for a while that now the tables are turning and we are looking back at ourselves as the drivers of meaning in society.
Chapter 23 – Ads: Keeping Upset with the Joneses
As someone who has studied feminist art history, it is almost impossible to think about ads without remembering the words of Jean Kilbourne. She has been collecting images of ads representing women since the 60’s and has created the series “Killing Us Softly.” Below is her TEDx talk at Lafayette College in 2014 in which she explains her work and talks about the huge impact that ads have on men and women of all ages.
Her series is a must see in a world lead by capitalism. When we need to buy to keep up with life and changes, those changes come with a cultural and social price. The more we consume, the more those products shape our way of life and understanding of the world around us. From McLuhan’s chapter on ads he says, “ads are not meant for conscious consumption” (2013, p. 247) and “ads push the principle of noise all the way to the plateau of persuasion” (2013, p. 247). Ads are shoved onto us even when we believe that we are immune to them, but the repetition and the noise it creates it breaks our conscious barriers and instill the “need” to consume.