The Medium is The Message
We’ve known for over 50 years that the Medium is the Message . It matters how you transport the message as much as what message it is which you wish to transport. And if the medium contradicts the message, it’s the message of the medium that sticks not the text of the message itself. Discourse is hidden in the medium not in the text of the message. The idea that one can transport a pure message in an objective way is nonsense. This is why the industry that seeks to improve risk and safety should want to know more about the dynamics of semiotics and discourse analysis. Alas, not interested. Tell tell tell, police police police, such an attractive model for helping people tackle risk.
Often people have great motives and wish the best for communication and then completely undo all good intentions by choosing a medium that undoes the message. We see this is the latest NZ Worksafe ‘Pickled’ campaign . Here we have Safety once again deluded by the myth of objectivity saying the very opposite of what it could say.
Just like the failed Dumb Ways to Die and Dumbs for Safety campaigns, the only thing that changes are the profits of a PR company and the emptying of Melbourne Metro and Lend Lease bank accounts. Making noise and cute cartoons isn’t a message it’s a medium. The real message of Mum’s being patronized, adults being dumbed down, misogyny and masking suicide are the messages of these campaigns. Hits on the Internet are not a measure of effectiveness.
When we run our workshop on Communicating to the Unconscious we focus on getting the subjectivities of communication in alignment. Communication is about much more than just sender and receiver. There are so many critical aspects hidden in the dynamics of communication (https://safetyrisk.net/what-are-you-trying-to-say/) that we need to attend to if we wish to be successful. It is simply naïve to think that ‘telling’ is neutral, objective and/or effective. As much as people might wish things to be simple, black and white – they are not.
The classic example of missing the medium is the message comes in the form of many mixed messages from regulators. It’s pretty straight forward, if you don’t engender trust people won’t speak up. Just look at the regular campaigns of the regulators on ‘speak up’ campaigns:
How strange, then these same organisations run ‘getting tough’ on breaches, ‘blitzes’ on non-compliances and fear campaigns and expect trust, care and listening.
Then people are somehow expected to disassociate one message from the other and the emotional medium from the message. Nothing is more destructive for messaging than ‘mixed messages’.
We get campaigns like this ‘Pickled’ thing that projects blame and dumbness on to people who have accidents??? Poor dumb onion bashed your head with a hammer, here we are to save the day you dumb veggie head. You need a Worksafe crusader to save you.
How strange that Safety knows what the problem is but doesn’t know what to do about it other than contact a marketing company that knows nothing about risk and safety.
Rob Long says
Poor olde Safety locked into empiricism and behaviourism looking for answers in materialism and individualism, professors of attribution seeking cause to the answers they already know.
Many thanks for the Marshall McLuhan link. particularly enjoyed the reference to David Hume on Page 4……..”Yet, as David Hume showed in the eighteenth century, there is no principle of causality in a mere sequence. That one thing follows another accounts for nothing.”
Every ICAM or TapRoot RCA should begin with this statement.