Guesties: The Medium is the Message

Posted: April 20, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Guesties
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

By Rich Jensen
Guest blogger

How we receive information is almost as important as the information itself. Occasionally, it is more important.

In the late 60s, assignment reporters for the network news sent back film footage of the Vietnam War. Unlike any previous war, this footage was processed, trimmed, and beamed right smack dab into the middle of millions of living rooms.

It’s one thing to read about the chaos of war. It’s another thing to have it appear in your neat, tidy, organized living room right after dinner.

In the years after his death it was somewhat fashionable to criticize Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase above, as well as the term “Global Village.” However, his writing has taken on an eerily prescient tone as we move well into the second decade of the Internet.

The acquisition and dissemination of information, trivial and otherwise, has become, for many, more important than participation in life itself. One has not really experienced an event, unless one has informed others, others who are not present, of the experience, often while it’s occurring.

Worrisome images like this have marred the early part of the NHL playoffs.

Further, the increased ability to communicate has not led to an increase in the quality of information communicated. How could it? It is not as though a variety of outlets for our opinions leads to more reasoned and tolerant opinions. Can technology be expected to make us more reasonable? How would it accomplish this? Rather, we are now able to register our disapproval of something through any number of channels that weren’t available as recently as ten years ago (and it is often disapproval, anger, outrage, contempt).

That brings us to this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The Stanley Cup playoffs have always been a pressure cooker, but these days, the pressure’s never off.

These series have always featured teams playing each other every other day, but suddenly that seems to be an issue. Why? What’s changed?

I suggest that the biggest change is that there are no longer off-days.

The off-day has been dying a slow death, and I would argue that this is the year that we’ve turned off life-support and pulled the sheet over its head.

Between social media and smart phones that enable continuous connection to any number of people, near and distant, and the proliferation of conventional media (radio, TV) and internet coverage, one game’s grievances don’t just simmer until the next game, rather the fires are stoked. If anything, the time between games no longer minimizes the real and imaginary offenses, it magnifies them.

The culture of the NHL regarding player safety has to change, this means changing player thought patterns. However, absent an opportunity for players to decompress between games and put the shrieking of both social and conventional media in perspective, these series will continue to be marked not only by tension but near-insanity on the ice.

About the author: Jensen lives in Sioux Falls, where he operates Altus Internet. He continues to be perplexed by the fact that stores refuse to accept print outs of his guest blogs as currency. We’re looking into that.

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