In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman tells us that “the medium is the messenger.” What he meant (IMHPO) is that information is often tainted by the way in which we receive it. That which is delivered through devices intended for amusement, well will be considered amusement before it is considered informative.
What Postman was talking about at the time was of course the ubiquitous glowing box that cornered the information market for much of the 20th century: the television. But now we have multiple glowing devices, and within these devices submediums. There are niche news sites, micro-blogs and aggregators, and they all come together on Social Media.
Yesterday, as SCOTUS heard arguments about the right of all couples to have the right to marry, something happened on Facebook. In an act of solidarity many users, myself included, changed their profile picture to the red equality sign signifying their support of that right. It felt good to say, not only do I pay attention, but I care about this issue.
It didn’t take long though for variations of the statement to appear. I think part of the reason we like Facebook so much is because we like to laugh. So, we post things to make each other laugh. Even variations on something a majority of Americans agree to support are subject to some joshing.
Which brings me to my question. If the messenger (read: Facebook) is the medium, what is implied of any message we put out on that medium? If we dilute a message with the inevitable silliness, did we really get it at all, or is that an implication that we got it, understand it and now must have fun with it? And, if we are having fun with it, does that mean we own it?
Here are some of my favorite variations of Support for Marriage Equality