8/1/11

Marshall McLuhan The Process Of Our Time

process of our time

The medium, or process, of our time—electric tech-
nology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of
social interdependence and every aspect of our
personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-
evaluate practically every thought, every action,
and every institution formerly taken for granted.
Everything is changing—you, your family, your
neighborhood, your education, your job, your gov-
ernment, your relation to "the others." And they're
changing dramatically.

Societies have always been shaped more by the
nature of the media by which men communicate
than by the content of the communication. The
alphabet, for instance, is a technology that is ab-
sorbed by the very young child in a completely
unconscious manner, by osmosis so to speak.
Words and the meaning of words predispose the
child to think and act automatically in certain ways.
The alphabet and print technology fostered and
encouraged a fragmenting process, a process of
specialism and of detachment. Electric technology
fosters and encourages unification and involve-
ment. It is impossible to understand social and
cultural changes without a knowledge of the work-
ings of media.

The older training of observation has become quite
irrelevant in this new time, because it is based on
psychological responses and concepts conditioned
by the former technology—mechanization.

Innumerable confusions and a profound feeling
of despair invariably emerge in periods of great
technological and cultural transitions. Our "Age of
Anxiety" is, in great part, the result of trying to
do today's job with yesterday's tools-with yester-
day's concepts.

Youth instinctively understands the present en-
vironment-the electric drama. It lives mythically
and in depth. This is the reason for the great
alienation between generations. Wars, revolutions,
civil uprisings are interfaces within the new en-
vironments created by electric informational media.