The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyJournalism & News BusinessNo David, Social Media Won't Kill Culture

No David, Social Media Won’t Kill Culture

If you're going to take credit, make sure it's yours to take.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

Social media won’t kill culture.

First: Fuck you, David.

I bought a paper copy of Esquire today and turned to page 26 (yes, that’s how many ads I had to get through before reaching the editor’s note).

There, the editor David Granger writes that the “treasured assumption of the digirati” was that the digital revolution would cause the end of record labels, book publishers, and movie studios. “But it didn’t, ha!”

“The disintermediation,” he concludes, “is freeing traditional media outlets like Esquire, enabling us to expand our horizons.”

That’s all well and good, David.

Traditional media outlets must adapt to digital-first — or fade away. However, when traditional Mad Media Men and the Copyright Mafia yelled at the top of their lungs, “Social media will kill culture, and journalism will die,” we said:

“No, that’s not how this digital stuff works.”

Social media can’t kill culture.
Social media is culture.

Second: Culture won’t die (and journalism won’t either). New revenue models are emerging out of the ashes — exactly as we, “the digirati,” predicted. To our point, the internet has proven to be an amplifier of human culture, not a destroyer.

So, let’s set the record straight.

What happened was that record labels, book publishers, and movie studios complained and moaned. But in the end, their whining fell on deaf ears. And so they were forced to adapt.

Exactly like we, “the digirati,” predicted.
And traditional media hated us for it.

For the largest part, the digitalisation of society will be a good thing for humanity — possibly also allowing Esquire to “expand its horizons.” And I’m pleased that Granger feels the need to acknowledge this, even as late as 2011.

Never too late for a change of heart, right?

So, in the spirit of change, hear us this time around. Traditional media is still down for the count, but instead of being humble, don’t try to rewrite history in your favour. Since Esquire gives advice on how to be a man, let me return the favour:

If you’re going to take credit, be a man and make sure it’s yours to take.

Best regards,

ps. The Gutenberg galaxy is not coming back:

The Electronic Age and Digital-First

Human culture is often described based on our access to production technologies (i.e. stone age, bronze age, iron age).

Still, according to Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School of Communication Theory, a better analysis would be to view societal development based on the prominence of emerging communications technologies.

Marshall McLuhan - Cambridge University - Digital-First
Marshall McLuhan at Cambridge University, circa 1940.

Marshall McLuhan suggests dividing human civilisation into four epochs:

  • Oral tribe culture. Handwriting marks the beginning of the end of the oral tribe culture. The oral tribe culture persists but without its former prominence.
  • Manuscript culture. Printing marks the beginning of the end of the manuscript culture. The manuscript culture persists but without its former prominence.
  • Gutenberg galaxy. Electricity marks the beginning of the end of the Gutenberg galaxy. The Gutenberg galaxy persists but without its former prominence.
  • Electronic age. Today, we reside in the electronic age. Likely, we haven’t yet experienced this age’s decline yet.

The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) is McLuhan’s mass media analysis, popularising the term global village.

As a PR professional and linguist, I subscribe to the concept of the electronic age. My line of work’s main point of analysis is that society is unlikely to revert to the Gutenberg galaxy.

The PR industry must adapt to digital-first. Why? Because the Typographic Man is not making a comeback.

Read also: Digital-First is the Way

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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