Technological Determinism — The Convenience of Smart Phones on Societies Beliefs and Behaviours

Andreana Apostolopoulos
4 min readMar 6, 2022

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Marshall McLuhan’s Technological Determinism theory suggests that the forms of communication technology that we have created for ourselves have not just dictated how we communicate with each other but that specific technology can affect our cognitive perception, self-conception, and even particular ideologies. Though as humans, we like to believe that we are in control of our thoughts, how we perceive information and how we let it affect our doctrines, I do think that the advancements in technology have impacted our control.

A famous statement that comes to mind is how modern-day technology and phone use are rotting human brains and how as humans, our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. I do believe that statement is true to an extent but notice that the reason humans have little interest in, let’s say, reading or an 8-second attention span is not from what we are reading on the internet but the luxury of having all the information in the world at our fingertips through our smart devices (being the median of the message).

We have become lazy to question, research, or even seek information that goes against our bias because of the advanced capabilities of our smartphones. The convenience of our smartphones has made it where we can access things we are interested in and precisely things that confirm our predisposed biases. So why spend our time looking at subjects that lack personal service, value, and go against our beliefs? When we pick up our devices, we are partaking in activities that release dopamine in our brains, whether that’s scrolling on TikTok, watching a YouTube video, or posting an image on Instagram, it's all for personal gain and enjoyment.

Back in the day, you would have to sit through the news to watch your favorite show, listen to a radio station message before hearing music, or read an entire article before getting the information you needed. Now, all that extra listening, viewing, and reading have been cut out. Instead, we get what we want when we desire it without prefacing messages, except for maybe product placement ads on a YouTube video.

“We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found.”

Access, speed, and convenience has made us walking search engines. Though there are pros to this, such as having more time towards activities we desire, it has cons as well such as accepting what is given at face value on our smart devices and becoming segmented into easily identifiable and controlled online social groups that can be taken advantage by corporations and media stations.

Today, we are seeing positive and negative outcomes of our technological advancements such as the creation of the Metaverse but the lack of desire to actually be present in person. We are able to easily connect with individuals across the world through social media but feel the pressure to present a fake life online to our followers. As humans, we are constantly wanting because we are becoming less satisfied with what we have due to these technological advancements. To conclude, yes, I do believe Marshall McLuhan’s Technological Determinism theory is heavily applicable in our media landscape when it comes to the convenience we as humans have created through our smart devices.

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