Do you know what I just did and what I’m going to do after writing this sentence? I just checked my Facebook. I’m going to check it again. Facebook is an exemplary example to illustrate the concept “the medium is the message” coined by Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan extensively analyzes the medium to show that “societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate rather by the content of the communication” in his book, “The Medium is The Massage.”
Facebook is definitely not the first social networking service. However, it seems hard to deny that it is the most successful and influential one. In the movie The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010) which depicts the founding of Facebook, it seems that what pops into Mark Zuckerberg’s (Jesse Eisenberg) mind when he is approached by the Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) twins to serve as a developer for a new social networking service is how it is different from an existing one like MySpace. I believe that its platform is a winning factor that contributes to its success. In other words, the medium Facebook uses to let users transmit their messages helps Facebook stand out.
In Facebook, you can put your personal information and update your status on your profile to share news with others. According to McLuhan, the community always wants to know more about you. People do want to know about schools you attend, things you like and where you just check in a few minutes ago. Some does care about the guy or the girl you are “in a relationship with.” More importantly, Facebook’s medium is very good at transmitting your information to the ones who are more likely to care about it. Your friends, people in your networks, your friends of friends who are actively stalking you tend to care more it. In other words, Facebook’s medium effectively helps us satisfy our needs to know more about others. “The family circle has widened” thanks to Facebook. Moreover, Facebook’s medium allows us to transmit text, images and videos with ease, which contributes to the effectiveness of the messages.
Facebook provides instant communication. According to McLuhan, it “has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition.” We no longer try hard to apprehend information and classify it. In Facebook, we tend to skim through our news feeds. The Facebook community can be considered as a “global village.” I particularly like McLuhan’s idea that we got out of the global village thanks to media and now the media somehow makes our world become a global village again. In particular, Facebook makes us become more involved with each other. Its medium has done an amazing job of forming a global village of Facebook users.
In fact, I’m checking my Facebook now…