Marshall McLuhan’s prediction of nearly 50 years ago that we would be living in a Global Village — that the media will create common and shared experiences among everyone on the planet — was amazingly farsighted. We see clear evidence of this most every day now, with recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and now the broader Middle East as the latest — and certainly a most dramatic example of — McLuhan’s vision.
But today with the proliferation of social media and its near worldwide presence and power, we also are seeing this relatively new media channel drive new behaviors, as well. In one moment, 6.8 billion of us seem to be riding the broad McLuhan media currents commonly shared by all but a few. In the next moment, we return to and spend time in smaller, highly defined communities or networks in which narrower bands of individuals from places throughout the world unite digitally and create, send, receive and react to information of specific interest — media tribalism, as McLuhan’s work suggested.
In order for PR practitioners and communicators in general to realize the extraordinary potential we have in this new world order and take our rightful place, we will have to continue to study and understand the power of today’s media and its ability to drive what may, at times, be distinctly different behaviors. But we also must be mindful that our learning will never be complete, because today, the media and methods of human communication are changing profoundly . . . and regularly.
Very much related and on a more personal note: So much has been written about the spontaneous combustion in Egypt and the role that the social media played there. For me and my family, social media also provided us a very personal window into events in Egypt as seen through the eyes of a young friend and as expressed on his Facebook postings. It has reminded me that as with all of important moments in history, Egypt is a story of broad geopolitical change driven by deeply personal passion and belief. Media in the 21st century has the ability to drive change on multiple levels in a way that the world has never seen. This is just the beginning.
This post originally appeared on CommPRO.biz.
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