Midterm Exam: Question C
Due: June 25, 2012
The required reading, “Medium Theory” by Joshua Meyrowitz takes on the topic of how communications has evolved. Communications started off based solely on oral tradition. In order for information to spread someone had to pass it on personally. Communication has changed and the next step was the growth of print societies. In these print societies, oral tradition wasn’t used as much. Or when it was used, it was then written down and the oral aspect of the information thread could be cut. Finally, today, the electronic global culture. The article discusses these three media eras and what was included and the main components of each.
The first media era the world encountered was traditional oral societies. In these societies, “presentation of ideas and mores depends upon the living memory of people” (Medium Theory, pg. 63). These societies were built upon memorization and recitation. The only way the message was spread to others was through close physical contact, in other words, people had to live in close proximity to one another to receive the information because there was no other method of delivering news.
Oral cultures have two primary characteristics. First, like already stated, they require a close physical presence be available between the communicating parties. Second, Individuality is a large factor, in the sense that is it limited. Yes, people can have ideas that are unique to themselves and present complex arguments, however these ideas and arguments are difficult to remember in their entirety and therefore often forgotten without a method of which to document them. Additionally, spoken word, as it is referred to in the reading, is difficult to rely on. People are human; they forget and stories become mixed up, forgotten, or misconstrued and therefore, their purpose and meaning are lost.
The second media era includes the modern print societies. A strength of these modern print societies includes that “writing establishes the potential for true ‘literature,’ ‘science,’ and ‘philosophy” (Medium Theory, pg. 63). These print societies have documentation and records of the important and unique ideas as well as arguments that the oral societies had but couldn’t provide documentation for. Therefore, the modern print societies better allow to people to express different views and have those views heard by others. In order for these modern print societies to work and function correctly, literacy is crucial. If people are illiterate, a print society cannot exist because those in it cannot read or write. The reading refers to writing and reading as “natural means for communication”.
The third media era is the electronic global culture. This third era is what the world and the United States are considered to be in currently. An electronic global culture takes time to develop; it isn’t developed or created over night. “Electronic media bring back a key aspect of oral societies: simultaneity of action, perception, and reaction” (Medium Theory, pg. 65). This quotation shows that all three of these media eras are part of the role triad and each one is built off of and an extension on the one before it. A difference among the three eras that the “electronic global culture possesses and the others don’t is that electronic communication is not subject to the physical limitations of time or space”.
Social roles in societies are extremely important. Matter of fact, these social roles are much of what societies are built from. Social roles provide group identity, socialization, and a hierarchy for its members. Their three social roles can also be defined as roles of affiliation, roles of transition, and roles of authority, each of which is crucial to a functioning triad.
The “Mobile Life Youth Report” provides some interesting and intriguing statistics on the importance of the role triad and how our current era (electronic global) is currently at the forefront of discussion and necessity. However, the importance of the previous two eras is also evident and are both needed for the current era to function. The report states that in the 11-17 year old group, electronic media and using it as a form of communication is very important. 78% of this age group possesses a mobile phone and reported that it provides them with a better social life than they would have without one. Additionally, 70% reported a higher quality of life when they possessed electronic methods of communication. The report continued to provide statistics stating that 68% of people 11-17 years old use text messaging as a form of communication, 90+% use email, and 55% are members of at least one social networking site (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter).
These findings in the “Mobile Life Youth Report” provide the proof behind the thought that electronic communication is of the utmost importance in today’s era. We truly are living in and experiencing an electronic global culture.