No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior Essay

Abstract

            The electronic media put people in informational setting that presents new audiences and new arenas.  In its perceptual field, audiences are not locked according to who is out or in because information flow can repeatedly take place anyhow, anywhere and anytime.  However, despite the fact that the interaction remains to be analogue, it is apparent that the differences in its effects to the behavior of the audiences depend on how the person accepts the message that is being injected to the media.  The society is the one that controls and directs the media.  It is merely a communication device that sends the same message again and again to varied audiences around the globe.  Thus, it is similar to a face-to-face situation.

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No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

by

Joshua Meyrowitz (1985)

            Joshua Meyrowitz’s book entitled ‘No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior’ takes a situational approach in the influence brought by the electronic media with regards to the physical presence in experiencing social events.  With the booming of the electronic media, physical experience is not first-hand, face-to-face experience anymore, which has decreased the significance of physical presence and experience around the globe.  Walls and spaces are not barriers anymore, and social significance does not have to do with physical presence anymore, since the electronic media had erased all physical barriers by connecting people beyond walls to places that are hours or days away from them.  But what do the electronic media actually mean to us anyway?

            This paper revolves around Meyrowitz’s book entitled ‘No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior’ - No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior Essay introduction.  In the end, it will be evident how or what exactly do the electronic media mean to the society today.

Main Body

Meyrowitz (1985) and the ‘situation’

            In the book of Meyrowitz (1985), the term ‘situation’ has something to do with “where one is and who one is with” (p.viii).  He wrote that the social behavior of a person depended on the situation—that is, where one is and who one is with—as well as the absent situation or where one is not and who one is not there (p.viii).  Situation is ruled usually by the physical settings.  However, with the invention of the electronic media, situations have carried out with a new dimension of audiences that are not physically there, and new dimension of arenas that do not physically exist in time and space (Meyrowitz, 1985, p.ix).  Situation, therefore, has taken a new light or level, since the electronic media has presented situations that cannot be exactly identified as a situation according to its meaning (where one is and who one is with).  Informational setting was introduced, to add up to the once popular denotation of the word ‘situation’ that is, the physical setting.  However, this has blurred the typical definition about “who knows what about whom” (Meyrowitz, 1985, p.9) connotation, as people in informational setting or situation nowadays tend to know what about whom but not exactly by whom.  Because the media allow people to know what about whom (but not exactly by whom), the electronic media put people more into ‘settings’ than into ‘situations’.

Meyrowitz (1985) and the ‘perceptual field’

            Meyrowitz (1985) had written, “Electronic media have changed the significance of space, time, and physical barriers as communication variables” (p.13).  The situationists had traditionally defined ‘situation’ in terms of the physical place.  With the arrival of the media, however, situation was divided between the physical and informational settings.  When Meyrowitz (1985) mentioned the ‘perceptual field’, what he meant was the overall field (not place) of information access that took the place of physical setting and situation, with the arrival of the electronic media.  Perceptual fields are determined by patterns of information flow through access that divides the audiences into those who are in or out of the field.  Unlike the audience in a physical setting, though, the perceptual field of the electronic media does not lock the audience into who is in or out because information flow can take place anyhow, anywhere and anytime.  Yet, because “[m]ost interactions through media can be described using an interpersonal analogue” (p.39) through information systems, it is clear that interactions in the perceptual field, whether they concern people who are in or out, should correspond an analogue behavior that should be similar in all aspects, circumstances, or types of audiences.  Thus, its effect in the behavior of the audiences should be similar in all aspects.

Meyrowitz (1985) and the link between situation and behavior

            The media is big influence to a person’s behavior.  As they create a new pattern and dimension into the manner in which personality and behavior develops, a new age of social development made way for social explosions like movements and political changes.  This made way for the media to be sort of change mechanism for the new-age societies.  This is primarily brought about by media messages that are being ‘injected’ to the society, through informational settings that the media use.  However, Meyrowitz (1985) wrote that “[I]t is not so much that the media affect people, as it is that people selectively use, and thereby affect, the media” (p.14).  If this is the case, that it is the society that selects and uses the media, then it would be utterly wrong to convict the media as the source of whatever changes that are transpiring in the personalities and behaviors of the audiences.  Media personnel choose the content and quality of the information according to the choices and desires of the society.  If this is the case, then whatever change there is in the society’s behavior was also allocated and tolerated by the society itself and not the media (or the media personnel).  With the society controlling and directing the media, it is merely a device or a medium that connects people.

Conclusion

            The electronic media put people in informational settings that present new audiences and new arenas.  In its perceptual field, audiences are not locked according to who is out or in because information flow can repeatedly take place anyhow, anywhere and anytime.  However, despite the fact that the interaction remains to be analogue, it is apparent that the differences in their effects to the behavior of the audiences depend on how the person accepts the message that is being injected to the media.  The society is the one that controls and directs the media.  It is merely a communication device that sends the same message again and again to different audiences around the globe.  How the audience would take the message depends on the behavior of the person.  Media influence behavior in as much as behavior influences the media.  Thus, it is similar to what a true situation is under its physical setting.

Reference

Meyrowitz, J. (1985). No sense of place: the impact of electronic media on social behavior. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

 

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