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Subjective: The Communication Theory - Social Media as the Receiver

How is social media a receiver within the constructs of the Communication Theory? Here, I would argue that the platforms of social media help shape society just as much as it records the consciousness of society. So, while the senders put out the message, here, on social media is where it stays. While it stays, it helps us record, all of the trends, topics, opinions, and so on. How does this affect the actual receiver? Not receiver as it could the “cloud” or the archive on our social media platforms, but theindividual behind or in front of the screen. The receiver who watches and learns and imitates.

​One benefit is its extended memory bank of recorded content that reflects society. That same benefit though may have side effects. In the reading “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Nicholas Carr introduces the argument of the internet’s contribution to the human’s mind, his inclusion of the opposing theory helped round out his perspective and those of influence. A few points that I wanted to highlight after reading this article includes, “supply of thought”, “knowledge work”, and “economic interest”.

To support the proposal regarding online platforms “supply of thought” was presented. The concept is that while the internet provides a wealth of accessible information, it is accompanied with side note opinion, advertisement, and social influence that have a way of sneaking back into a person’s thought process way after being exposed to its content. If the idea worth learning about online was worth 10 cents each, let’s say we were taxed 50% of the price for the exposure to side note entertainment and opinion for whatever reason. Now, with half the amount of valuable information, the other half could be considered content clutter that sits in reserve of a person’s mind. Not only that, but Carr concludes that it seems to chip away at his “capacity for concentration and contemplation”. The concern here is that the sort of disorganization and convoluted ness in the way that our thoughts are managed may be dependent upon how often a person partake in searching the internet in the traditional form of online platform.

Next, I find a new proposal in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, “knowledge work”. As it relates to “supply of thought”, the idea is that the new ways of receiving information and messages here becomes a pattern or habit attributing to the instinctual thought process of the human brain. He compares this modern-day habit to the way we tend to process information before the internet. Manual labor was involved then; actual research. Aside from that the act of reading was not so prevalent aside from the avid newspaper or magazine reader, or student at a university. Now, we read to communicate through text daily, to get a real time update from a friend’s post on social media, the words of a magazine cover almost every space of every page compared to just mostly the pictures back in the 80’s. There is a good amount of mental energy and time spent in the process of converting words to information. To accommodate that reality, a natural response is to skim read at times, just get what we are looking for out of the reading and move on to the next thing quickly. There is less concentration, less investment into the act of learning something. If you have a question, just look it uponline, no need to ask a professional, no need to save space in the mind to remember the idea for later, you can just look it up again if you need to. That kind of puts a dependency on online platforms.

A great proposal that Carr makes in this article is the “economic interest” of this epidemic. To fund research and inventions of artificial intelligence, there is an incentive to emphasize the need for it in society. If the overall perception is skewed to glorify the mirage of a mind as great as a computerbut as real as a person, then there is a lucrative market for such. Pushing the expectation to perform at a high level of mental astuteness holding a bank of knowledge ready to apply at any given time would drive customers desperately for something that can help meet those expectations. The side effects of social media and entertainment specifically through platforms on the internet consistently show contribution to lack of focus and scattered thought process. However, efforts to detract from this are not so publicly enforced. That along with advertisement are the most obvious catalysts for building the internet up to hold such leverage on the modern individual’s construct of the brain.

Carr incorporates Richard Foreman’s tokened phrase “pancake people”. This is the underlying fear of the impact internet appears to have on society as a whole. In the race to be most valuable professionally, academically, socially, somehow engagement on the platforms and search engines online hold a huge part in becoming the best versions of one’s self today. This habitual efforts of it are now to come with a list of side effects including the fight for “supply of thought”, “knowledge work”, and “economic interest”.


Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" The Atlantic. 2013.

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