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.
Chapter Twenty-One: World War III: Cyber Warfare and Social Media Threats to Democracy
World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation—Marshall McLuhan (1970, 66)
Marshall McLuhan was predicting the key role information would play in world geopolitics long before the commercial release of the Internet in 1994 and even before Arpanet, the forerunner of the Internet was a going reality. The above quote was published in 1970 and written sometime in 1969 the same year Arpanet transmitted it first message. McLuhan made his prediction of cyberwarfare before he was even aware of the Arpanet and decades before the emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Two years later McLuhan and Nevitt (1972, 152) wrote about a connection between technological development and war:
It is easy to view war in terms of technological development:
WORLD WAR I - A RAILWAY WAR OF CENTRALIZATION AND ENCIRCLEMENT.
WORLD WAR II - A RADIO WAR OF DECENTRALIZATION CONCLUDED BY THE BOMB.←177 | 178→
WORLD WAR III - A TV GUERRILLA WAR WITH NO DIVISIONS BETWEEN CIVIL AND MILITARY FRONTS (upper case used in the original source).
McLuhan’s prediction of World War III as an information-based war is connected to what he saw was the effects of electrically configured information. He wrote, “War is never anything less than accelerated technological change … Now that man has extended his central nervous system by electric technology, the field of battle has shifted to mental image making and breaking,...
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