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The Media as an Extension of My Subconscious

Think about the last news story you learned of. How did you learn of it (what medium was used)? And how did the way you learned that information impact the delivery of the message you received? An article published in The Toronto Star would be lengthy and contain facts, quotes, and statistics. CityTV would play a segment which would most likely last a few minutes and provide some video or audio data. Finally, your Facebook news feed may be able to provide updates, links, or comments on the topic via your friends. How did these three mediums tell the story differently? And ask yourself, what biases could each of these mediums contain that would alter the way these messages were delivered? What viewpoint was taken and what kind of evidence was provided to support the story?

The message is essentially delivered or communicated through the use of a medium, or in plural form, the media. These messages are also known as the information and knowledge being shared, whether it be in the form of a news story, poetry, or scientific research. Media are used to transit information and can take the form of speech, telephone, film, and the list goes on. One of the most prevalent forms of media that we have only recently added to the list is social media. The way society as a whole communicates has been once again revolutionized with the invention of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in addition to the internet as a whole.

Marshall McLuhan said that “the medium is the message”, meaning the medium influences how the message is perceived. A symbolic relationship exists between the two, in the sense that the message always contains a hint of the medium. Today, this can be found more true than ever, as branding has become such an important aspect of establishing self-worth for businesses and products alike. As a recruiter, it’s necessary to explore how new age media is landscaping the way for new age recruitment, also known as recruitment 2.0. How is the employers’ message now being communicated using social media, versus traditional recruitment methods? Are new media an effective tool for recruitment?

When Marshall McLuhan first began publishing work in the 1960s, the concept of media took on an entirely different meaning. He began by exploring the effects that print media had on the world. As a medium of both social interaction and individualistic thought, the effects of print media are so embedded in our lives that it’s difficult to imagine a world without print.

The word medium now takes on an entirely new meaning and is in a constant state of evolution. Today we find prevalent media to be television, radio, film, and as we see a decline in print, we also see a rise in the usage of the internet. Before his death, and the invention of the internet, Marshall McLuhan predicted that the next medium would be an extension of our subconscious. The internet has now become than extension, providing us with content than engages all of our sense, especially with the usage of social media such as Facebook that is meant to act as an online dialog between you and your friends, groups, advertisers, etc. It should also be noted that McLuhan’s work has also been interpreted to infer that the internet itself is both a medium and a message.

When I first began to study the work of Marshall McLuhan several years ago, I began to realize the implications that the media had on the messages I was receiving. These messages came in the form of my education, entertainment, news, and general socialization. I began to understand the importance of learning the context of this information or data. I asked myself questions such as, how does the environment in which I am receiving this information, for example a theory in my Psychology 101 class, affect the data? Just as I would question validity and reliability in psychology, I would question both in the media as well.

Anything new I learned came from sources such as text books, news stories, music, television, magazines, film, friends, and family. While psychology textbooks emphasize the importance of eliminating biases, messages received from almost all other types of media struck me as potentially bias and often one-sided. In magazines it is often easy to see how sponsorships and advertisements alter content based on biases towards certain products or advertisers. The power that advertisers have over media content in today’s society is probably one of the most important reasons to understand the media’s immersion in the messages we are receiving. While the connections may appear to be become more transparent to us over time, we are constantly bombarded with new techniques by which media sponsored messages are trying to attract us. New age social media is a good example of this, since users are only just beginning to understand how they’re being targeted by certain brands, celebrities, and employers using sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

As a communications student turned Recruiter, I can’t help but wonder how the medium is the message, when the medium is the employer and the message is ‘we’re hiring’. The emphasis placed on human capital can help determine how recruitment is focused and what methods are used to attract new talent. While some companies receive an abundance of qualified candidates for any given position, others are unable to attract the right talent when simply using a company job board. Essentially, when a company is recruiting using a job board as their medium, their message indicates that they want you, the job seeker, to come to them. And if this job posting method has proven successful, it means that job seekers are indeed interested in the working for the company, and the company also believes that these applicants are well suited for the company.

Other recruitment mediums include job sites such as Workopolis, recruitment agencies, classified ads, and social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. All of these mediums send different messages, as they all target different audiences and function in various ways. For example, agencies are most effective in executive level searches, as they are known to conduct aggressive, timely, confidential, and costly recruitment. These media also target various demographics. Depending on employer preferences, using the right type of media can attract various age groups, postal codes, and employment histories.

Social media has revolutionized the message that employers are delivering in order to attract top talent. Most companies use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and LinkedIn in order to promote the company brand. By encouraging people to follow these pages, the company establishes a following, and a way to instantly connect and interact with the masses. These media prove effective because millions of users visit them frequently, therefore the content is often able to reach far beyond expectations, especially with the use of tools such as hashtags and groups. When using social media, an employer is able to connect with both established followers, or the social media users which they may source themselves. Social media pages are often used to share new brand developments, answer customer questions, and authenticate a lifestyle, or corporate culture. For recruitment purposes, social media then becomes a job advertisement tool which is targeted towards the company’s existing followers, those sourced, as well as those reached using tools such as hashtags.

Certain forms of media are intentionally used to communicate certain types of messages. As is the case with the hundreds of messages we receive daily, we can also apply this concept to recruitment. By understanding the media used for recruitment, we can better understand business strategy. We can also explore branding tactics and study audiences by discussing the media. In 2014 it has become apparent that employers are using various forms of media, and more often social media, to deliver modern-day messages to an audience that is addicted to their smart phones, iPads, and laptops. Over forty years ago, Marshall McLuhan was correct in theorizing that the media would eventually become an extension of our subconscious. Evidently I imagine the illustration in McLuhan’s brain looking like this: Me walking down King street, checking my twitter feed on my smart phone, and listening to music with my headphones plugged in. Then again, at the time he had no way of knowing what the word smartphone means.

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