Does the Medium Matter?

Does the medium you use for mass communication change how you perceive the message? How does watching a movie at an IMAX theater differ from watching it on your television set? How does listening to a speech on the radio or on television differ from reading a copy of the speech online or in a newspaper? Are you more comfortable reading something disturbing than seeing a video about the same subject?

While I do believe that every individual can process the same message from the same medium differently, I also think that the medium used to convey a message can alter how that message is perceived by the receiver.

For example, reading a book has the ability to stir emotion; however, if those words are transposed into a screenplay, and viewers can see actors giving life to a character by showing vulnerability, the connection to the story may be enhanced, and felt more deeply.

Lyrics are another example. They can relate to someone’s experiences, but once those words are set to music, the feelings behind them can become more intense.

Watching a movie at an IMAX theater almost makes a person feel like they are involved, rather than just a typical movie night in front of the living room television. Listening to a speech on the radio does not have the same impact as seeing the emotion of the person delivering the speech. Personally, I’m much more comfortable reading about something disturbing as opposed to seeing it, because the visualization of something gruesome brings forth stronger emotion.

I do think the medium used has the capability to enhance, or soften, the content for those on the receiving end of the message.

“The medium is the message.” -Marshall McLuhan


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