In my daily commute, I’ve found that sometimes my mind takes as many twists and turns as the road I travel. For whatever reason, my brain conjured up from deep storage a memory of my 10th grade English class where the teacher was presenting Marshall Mcluhan’s ideas about media.

Marshall Mcluhan – Picture courtesy of wikimedia commons, Canada public domain.

So I poked about the Internet and came across this Mcluhan quote:

“The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium.”

     (Understanding Media, NY, 1964, p. 8)

Now consider a more modern example of technology’s indirect influence on human behavior. A study has shown that when ordering a pizza online, people consume more calories and spend more money. The gist of the story is that people let themselves run a bit wilder interacting online than when they have to order food from an actual human being. Really.

So all this pondering led me to a mind-shift about LifeShare. The LifeShare medium is comprised of other mediums; personal messages, social media posts, news, games, music, and faith-based programs. Our primary focus has been content, content, and content, thinking that the more and varied types of content we provide, the more attractive our offering would be. But it is the medium of how this content is provided and consumed that is turning out to be the real value.

LifeShare provides an inherently egalitarian implementation to both the sender and the receiver. Senders use devices and technologies that are familiar to them (mobile phone, tablet, computer, email, text, social media) and elderly receivers use devices and technologies that are familiar to them, the television and telephone. But underneath, it is the simplicity of the provision and consumption of content that has been the real influence in “the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” Keeping family, care providers, and seniors connected and our loved ones top-of-mind are the real game-changers. In my own experience, the simplicity of sharing has strengthened my family connections and made me look more actively for opportunities to share.

So bravo, Mr. Mcluhan, for looking past content to develop your insight into the effects of media and technologies. To leave you with one more quote from Mcluhan as food for thought (and possible future blog topic), “With telephone and TV it is not so much the message as the sender that is ‘sent.’”

Further Reading:

Marshal Mcluhan Website 

Why You Should Probably Never Order A Pizza Online