BOSTON, April 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Dr. Keith Ablow (www.keithablow.com), a NY Times bestselling author and cultural commentator, has released a groundbreaking statement (https://keithablow.com/marshall-mcluhan-predicted-world-war-iii/) harkening back to the late, iconic philosopher Marshall McLuhan and assigning some blame for the current global instability to the intrusion of technology into interpersonal and geopolitical dynamics.
Dr. Ablow has been a frequent columnist of psychology and society for the Washington Post and New York Post, as well as a national voice on such matters for the Fox News Network, Inside Edition, Today Show and many other media outlets. He is also the co-host of the podcast "Violent Minds." [https://www.violentminds.com/]
"Marshall McLuhan was famous for saying ‘The medium is the message,’" Ablow commented. "By that he meant that the technology used to convey ideas is more important, from a cultural standpoint, than the ideas themselves.
In his groundbreaking book Understanding Media, McLuhan separated media into either "hot" or "cold." He saw film shown in theatres, for instance, as a hot medium, calling for little audience participation, since the experience is so enveloping—with high intensity images, a captivating soundtrack, little light and few distractions. Television, he argued, was a disruptive "cold" medium that required human beings to unconsciously assemble the myriad pixels that comprise a television image, thus compelling them to join themselves to the technology.
Cold media, McLuhan explained, were the ones that risked human beings becoming addicted to them and feeling absorbed and homogenized by them. He theorized that the species would fight back against this absorption and homogenization by becoming more tribal — asserting their national and geopolitical identities through conflict with one another. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States may, in fact, have been partly fueled by the threat that television would dissolve everyone, and all identities, into it.
"McLuhan, who died in 1980, had no idea that new technologies, like the internet and its children, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, would represent an exponential, existential threat of the same kind," Dr. Ablow said. "Writers for the Washington Post, the New York Times and other publications are only now addressing the problem I identified several years ago: that these new technologies don’t really reinforce individuality and self-expression and identity; they threaten to obliterate it instead."
Dr. Ablow went on to explain, "Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google and others seek to monopolize information dissemination and product marketing. They do so by absorbing consumers’ likes, dislikes and patterns of behavior into their sites and hardware, forcing interactions with them by spitting back marketing and social networking prompts and algorithms that trigger more searches, more buying, more socializing and more fingerprinting of the consumers’ inclinations and intentions. Once the consumers are known sufficiently, it could be argued that their psychological DNA ‘exists’ inside the technologies behind such sites and products. The consumers are owned and operated, to an extent, by the media and technology they are using to learn, shop and socialize."
As Dr. Ablow put it, "They are ‘connecting’ to the amoeba of a technological society and disconnecting from themselves. Just as lots of people consciously enjoy using heroin, people may consciously enjoy being depersonalized by technology. But human beings have a safety valve inside their psyches to prevent complete destruction of their free will. This unconscious reflex reasserts their identities, often — as McLuhan observed and predicted — through heightened tribal conflict."
Ablow believes that McLuhan would have assigned the rancor between right-wing Americans and left-wing Americans, the divide between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, the rise of ISIS and of the equally dangerous MeToo movement, the feverish tension between the U.S. and North Korea and, yes, the rising tensions between NATO and Russia to the impact of the internet and its offspring. And it isn’t too much to think that he might well have been correct.
"Our species, save for some pockets of resistance like the Amish," Ablow said, "has rushed headfirst into our new technologies, including the metaverse. But our souls won’t rush into that dark night without a fight. Lots of fights. Maybe even nuclear war. Literally."
SOURCE Dr. Keith Ablow