Friday, April 06, 2012

The Orlons - "Don't Hang Up" (1962)

So how do media and technology influence our thinking?   Not the content but the medium itself?  Here're some hints:

The song Don't Hang Up is about a telephone call a girl is making to her boyfriend.  We know what hang up means, because the telephone has been commonly known (at the time the song came out) for about 80 years.

What would the people of the year 1850 have thought of the term hang up?  People in the current year (2012) have had little to no exposure to telephones that used rotary dials, but we still use the terminology to dial a phone.  Or, if there are no telephones in the year 2025, the term hang up will have only archaic meaning.

Another song example is Jim Croce's song Operator, recalling the time when telephone operators (usually female) assisted with making connections (see video above).
Just like media and technology give us new words and new meaning for words, they also give us new and different metaphors for how we relate to other people, and to other things around us.
And we take in each medium in a different way.
Spoken words are a series of sounds made by the mouth, intended to be heard by the ear. The brain compares the sounds to words we have previously learned, and then uses the words together in context, and interpreted with knowledge of the current situation and the way the words are spoken meaning is derived.
Written words are different. As are written words that are published. And television. And the Internet.
And then there is Sade's Smooth Operator, which is a different use of the word operator:

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