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Dear America

by Jennifer Parker

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About Jennifer Parker

Jennifer Parker is a freelance writer and improviser living in New York City with a background in film and television studies.

 

Dear America,

Or at least white, liberal America. You seem so confused. Don’t worry, it isn’t your fault. You meant well. You voted. You did something that I could never have done. You voted for the 45th President of the United States. I couldn’t have voted for two simple reasons, one is that I am Canadian and the other is that I’m super dead.

Some of you knew before you went to bed on Election night and others when you woke up the next day. It was like you had been collectively dumped by your lover. You didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, you stared into space on your morning commute. You dissolved into tears in the office. You over-shared. Your life seems to be defined by pre Donald Trump president-elect and post. You were on the verge of a historic election of a woman candidate. I should add, not only a woman, but a candidate who is actually qualified to do the goddamned job for god’s sake. Simply put, you, the highly educated, pro same sex marriage, pro-choice supporters of Planned Parenthood, the same people who elected and reëlected the first black US president were catfished.

Now you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to move on. Like any break-up there are the endless questions: Was it something I said? You’ve been asking your-self, did I do enough? Should I have phone banked for Hilary? Does my butt look too big in this pant suit? Should I have gone door to door in swing states? Should I have at least visited a fly over state?

Then there’s always the maybe I shouldn’t have dated that one. I should have dated the other one. Maybe he didn’t have as much money. Maybe he was an idealist and a bit of a non-conformist. Just enough of a rebel to make your parents worried. But at the end of the day, do you really think that the KKK wouldn’t be rounding up the troops if you had a liberal-assed Jew in the White House instead of a woman in a pant-suit? It sounds crude and I’m a gentleman, but liberal America, baby, you just screwed yourselves.

You probably think that I sound like the other misogynistic asshole and that it is suddenly the victim’s fault. Now, you think I’m slut shaming you? It isn’t your fault. You stopped reading. You stopped paying attention to what was further than six inches in front of your faces. You just kept taking information in without really thinking about it. You do it in line at the grocery store. You do it in restaurants. You do it while walking your dogs. You do it while waiting for a movie to start. It is like you never stop. Look up the origin of the word read. It means guess.1 When you read, you are guessing quickly. When you read content on the internet you are reading sanitized con-tent that has been highly tailored to your tastes and interests. It is designed to keep you on the screen. It is designed for you to consume.

At 2:36am, a few hours after the polls had closed, the online edition of The New Yorker started posting articles earnestly explaining how the election results could have been predicted by the media had the media been paying attention. I am only mention-ing the New Yorker because it is the ultimate liberal’s bible, second only to NPR for those of you who don’t have time to read.

I died in 1980 for Christ’s sake, long before the goddamn internet even existed. I wrote a book in 1964, “Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man.” Here’s the elevator pitch: The premise is that the medium itself, rather than the content it carries, is the message. Nailed it, right?

I explained it so simply in 1964, let me repeat that, in case you didn’t get that IN 1964 that I had my own meme before there were memes, “The Medium Is the Mes-sage.” Maybe it wasn’t that simple but I handed it to you and I just want to know why no one is talking about my work right now?

I gave an interview in Australia in 1977 and said, “The effect of TV is quite inde-pendent of the program, that is, there is a huge technology involved in TV. It surrounds you, physically. And the effect of that huge service environment on you is vast. The ef-fect of the program is incidental.” Let’s think about that for a few minutes. Let it really sink into thoughts in the context of 2017. I’m saying that it doesn’t really matter what you watch but that you consume it. The content isn’t important. It didn’t matter in 1964 and it sure as hell doesn’t matter in 2017. For the sake of understanding the election, re-place the word television with internet and you have it.

I could never have imagined a world with Smart Phones and Facebook but ask yourself how much of your day do you spend on your phone? I’ll tell you something that I can tell you with impunity. Steve Jobs understood “The Medium Is the Message.” So did Marc Zuckerberg. Do you have a Facebook account? Have you ever left your phone at home and felt like you were not quite a whole and complete person? I’m not saying that these are bad things. I am just saying that you have to acknowledge that they are things to be acknowledged. Even I have a twitter account, @marshallmcluhan and I am super dead.

Cheers,
Marshall McLuhan

 

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

Marshall McLuhan makes a reference to the definition of the origin of the verb to read.