Extensions of Their Users
The purpose of this book is to understand the nature of social media and the impact they are having on almost all aspects of modern-day existence from family life and social interactions to education and commerce. Just as fish are unaware of the water they swim in and we humans are unaware of the air that we breathe so it is that the users of social media are unaware of the effects of these media and take their existence as a natural part of their environment. The authors make use of Marshall McLuhan’s media ecology approach to understanding media in order to reveal the effects of social media on their users, how they are changing the nature of our social interactions and how we through our interaction with social media have become actual extensions of our social media, the reverse of McLuhan’s notion that media are extensions of mankind.
The authors analyze the major social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tinder, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and blogs as well as examining the Splinternet and the social media scene in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and the Islamic world. Understanding Social Media studies the impacts of social media monopolies, the nature of advertising and branding in social media apps and the social media front in cyberwarfare and concludes with an analysis of the social media counter revolution waged by players who actually helped to create social media.
Many of the ideas in this book are those of Marshall McLuhan and those that are ours were informed by him and other media ecologists we have referenced. We also wish to acknowledge the contributions of members of the media ecology community and in particular those of Corey Anton, Eva Berger, Adriana Braga, Roman Kordiuk, Alex Kuskis, Andrey Miroshnichenko, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, Anat Ringel and Ed Tywoniak. In addition, Bob Logan wishes to acknowledge the contributions of his students at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto who took his two seminar courses McLuhan and What is Information? with particular mention of Emily Findlay White, Marlie Tandoc, Zeynep Merve Iseri and Kateryna Gromova. We also wish to acknowledge and thank St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto for creating the stimulating environment in which we carried out the research for this book.
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