The Modern Global Village

The way the late Marshall McLuhan described the concept of a ‘global village’ as being an ‘electrically configured world’ where ‘information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously’ can be applied to the state of the media and its impact on societies across the world today. However, the level of instantaneous information and connectivity in modern times being exchanged through media vehicles has drastically surpassed the stage it was at during the time of his death in 1980.

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In his 1960 interview with CBC TV McLuhan talks about how electronic media as opposed to print media was creating a sense of ‘tribalism’ amongst people which involves the replacement of individualism that books enabled with the concern of what the group knows in order to act ‘with it’. Today the enduring expansion of the World Wide Web has allowed the modern individual with access to it to explore a seemingly endless supply of entertainment and news sources where people can seek information on a very wide range of their precise interests in an instant and interact with others who share them in a unified and very global community, making it the core vehicle for the global village today. The internet has allowed a new kind of what McLuhan would regard ‘tribalism’ as media sources that are formed by the group-think he was referring to are more numerous and diverse in the era of the internet, making the individual able to have more independent thoughts with the availability of numerous and varied sources to consider.

As for individualism, I don’t think it has completely vanished as people are always going to be capable of their own thoughts and not be completely susceptible to the opinions of the groups they associated themselves with. For instance, the ABC news outlets are widely considered by Australians to be one of the few politically neutral sources of news where facts are delivered directly and people able to develop their own opinions on the matter rather than have it implied to them as they read it. Having listened to ABC radio for the past year at work, I’ve noticed that the listeners have a much more diverse range of opinions when they call up compared to the comment section of the Herald Sun, which to me is an example of individualism still existing in modern times.

McLuhan also talks how quick news moves in the global village in the electronic age, a phenomenon which has increased further with the introduction of smartphones which according to Business Insider 1 in 5 people in the population of the whole world own (which is most the developed world). The introduction of smartphones means that people now have access to the internet at all times wherever they may be which is definitely the highest point of instantaneousness the global village has reached, or in Isabel Peterson’s words the smartphone directly deals with the “moving human body and the ecological interrelationships among the virtual space of the internet, the enclosed space of the installation and the open space of everyday life”.

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