The New Medium: Smartphones

The cell phone, specifically the smartphone, a still extremely new technology, has had greater impacts on our lives than anyone could have predicted. There is a vast wealth of information at our fingertips and the possible uses of the devices’ functions are virtually endless. In an age where the newest and most current events are the only ones that matter, the constant connectivity has fundamentally altered the way we perceive the rest of the world.

Although the basic idea for what we now consider a smartphone was recorded in the 1970’s, the first production models were not released until the mid-90’s (1). The idea and invention did not only spawn a new tool, but it also created a new medium that had never before been experienced. Obviously, whenever the smartphone was initially released, it was extremely expensive and rare to know somebody who owned one. Fast forward to the current day, and it is more difficult to find someone who does not own a smartphone than it is to find someone who does. Not only are the devices extremely common now, but a high amount of consumers refuse to buy anything but the newest, most advanced models available at the time.

Due to such a widespread use and understanding of the technology, this new medium is highly effective in what it does. As mentioned by McLuhan when speaking of the television, which was a new invention at the time, new technology brings about a more immediate means of gaining information. McLuhan stressed the idea of instant news being fed to the masses. His observation is more relevant today than ever before. Even when one is not searching for new information, he or she could receive a notification that delivers the new info. Whether it is world news, sports, social media, or any other source of information, the instant accessibility remains.

The general public is well informed. They have the opportunity to take the information presented to them and turn it into thoughts and ideas that can shape their future. Similar to the impact television had the voting system, the smartphone can change the way voters see candidates. Voters’ decision are not based solely on the platforms of the politicians. Instead, especially in the age of message boards and comment sections being accessible at a few taps of a finger, others’ opinions can have a major influence on beliefs. Therefore, a more charismatic and personally relatable candidate could edge out someone with stronger, sounder ideas.

The world is constantly evolving; changing with every new idea. The human species feels the need to change along with the newfound technology. Being more connected with one another than ever before, opinions of others have the potential to make a larger impact. Finally, most people are never away from their phones for an extended period of time. Without spending much time away from a device that constantly pumps information at you, it is sometimes hard to disconnect from the issues faced in everyday life. It holds the possibility to jeopardize time usually used to relax or spend time with friends or family. Being so intertwined with the virtual space of the internet at your fingertips can take away from face to face interactions. For every advantage that smartphones have offered, the new medium also carries an effect that may sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

1) “Pocket Computing: Evolution of the Smartphone | Pocketnow.”


2 thoughts on “The New Medium: Smartphones”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, it was very engaging. I like the point you made that McLuhan stressed that instant news would be fed to the masses. I never realized that what you said is true, even when we are not searching for news, we receive a notification of some event that is going on the world, and always staying up to date with information. I know for me, when I’m on my computer doing work, CNN will send me a notification of an event.


  2. I thought it was really interesting how you included the bit on elections. I would be curious in looking into how this new technological age has affected polling number, especially among different age groups. It seems we are more informed than ever, yet numbers in the polls suffer.


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