Author(s)

Omar AdamsFollow

Date

5-2016

Department

Communication Studies

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Kristin Hark

Keywords

Electronic Eloquence, Jamieson, McLuhan, Ong, Smartphone, Social Media

Disciplines

Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | Mass Communication

Abstract

As Marshall McLuhan first proposed, humanity has progressed through several stages of communication technology that have each fundamentally changed the way people think and behave within society at large. Electronic media redefined society in the 20th century, and now we stand at the cusp of a new revolution. This paper examines the changes brought about by the Internet and new media, with a particular focus on the effects of smartphone and social media use, through the lens of Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s theory of electronic eloquence. An anonymous survey was conducted to determine participants’ preferences on different forms of media as well as their levels of socialization with and without reliance on electronic media. Results showed that participants strongly preferred combinations of minimal text and attractive or emotionally charged images (like “memes”) to plain text or even video. Behavioral differences were also apparent, and participants who used social media most frequently tended to primarily socialize around TV screens rather than focus on other people. The results suggest a tendency toward digital connection and personal or emotional disconnection, with atrophied social skills.