The Tribal Age: An Acoustic Place in History
Chapter 24: Page 314-315
The act of listening and sharing in a group can form a sense of community, similar to symbolic convergence. In this section McLuhan describes how our sensitivity to sound is an essential tool in understanding and perceiving environments. “The sense of sound works against privatization. Listening to someone speak in a group is a unifying act. Everyone hears at the same time”(315). We are less restricted and have less boundaries with sound and spoken words than we do with sight. Spoken words are unifying, communal, and “lack materiality” (315) because they are arbitrary. Spoken words or ideas are only alive in the moments that they are uttered. Because of this McLuhan says spoken words must, “constantly be shared and reiterated and passed down” (315) in order to stay alive. Without the ability to hear we are “hopelessly unaware”(315) of our surroundings. McLuhan summed up the tribal age in his last line, “hearing is believing” (315). I agree with McLuhan in that, hearing is a much more holistic interpretation of the world around us, and gives us so much freedom with that interpretation and perception.