The text message as a digital medium is a relatively recent one designed for communication. And yet, despite the difference in scale between this medium, and say, the electric light described in McLuhan’s writings, the two share many similarities regarding existing as a form of media that represents a message in itself.
The Message and Scale
As McLuhan states, the “message” of technological mediums appears in how it affects human behavior and/or activities, the chance of pace or patterns introduced into human affairs as a result of new innovations. The text message is one that certainly does so on a massive scale, and fits with McLuhan’s apparent intent; it is not necessarily the content of the text message that has altered things, but rather the core invention and the inherent changes it brings to relationships. The context of any particular text is not necessarily important, but for example, the understanding of how easy it is to text someone anywhere has created a sense of global interconnectedness:
- “being at work” outside work, as discussed in class
- being obligated to quickly reply to messages
Such issues are among the many nuances that have emerged in society as a result of the invention of the text message.
An Extension of Humanity
Of course, the text message is not inherently a bad thing; McLuhan’s core philosophy is that new, different forms of media merely alter our perception of reality, acting as a new form of sense rather than merely being a method of delivering messages within unrelated content. The text message naturally seems like an extension of oneself at this point, as modern advances in technology and accessibility have made it nearly universally presumed that any given person will have the ability to use a cell phone, and thus receive text messages, when needed. For that reason, it can be said that texting as a form of media is effectively a natural “extension of ourselves”, one that allows instantaneous communication with other parties, rendering distance irrelevant.