Essay: McLuhan and the Extension of Ourselves through a Medium

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published on: January 14, 2020
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  • McLuhan and the Extension of Ourselves through a Medium
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McLuhan interprets medium as a form of an extension of ourselves or our sense. A classic example of this would be a hammer as an extension of our arms. The hammer allows us to nail in something with a force we otherwise would not be capable of doing ourselves with the naked hand. This concept is not always clearly stated in his text. I found it rather confusing and complex when it is a fairly simple theory. For example, I am typing this paper, which requires me to use my thoughts translated into words. This paper is by product or another form of medium that I already possess. My mind. I utilize a keyboard to write, the keyboard is a medium influenced by the pen or pencil. Everything created derives from an original medium. McLuhan is challenging his audience to think of what each mediums’ original state is. By understanding where it originates from it give the user power to utilize the new medium in the most effective way possible.

McLuhan seems medium as an every growing form. Which implies that all mediums grow into another form of a medium. A modern medium that extends our social connectivity would be the smartphone. The smartphone extends all of an individual’s ideas and notions to others across the globe, it also assists in a form of learning that makes knowledge instantaneously accessible at any time or place. McLuhan insists that once we understand what form of the medium it is, we are able to comprehend what underlying message the medium carries. These messages are not always obvious and cannot always be observed with the eye. The viewer is challenged to look beyond the obvious message to see the effect of the medium. An example of this would be a story in the New York Times, the message the story is not what it appears, the result of the story on the public is the fundamental message.

The medium is the message argues that until we know the essence and nature of any medium created, we will be blind to the effects of the medium. Or vice versa, by knowing the outcomes of the medium we can know the characteristics of it too. McLuhan believes many are blind by the subject matter of the medium which prevents us from ever seeing or understanding the message. There are many benefits of media, but it is equally as important to acknowledge the consequences of new. The smartphone has rapidly changed an individual’s ability to communicate and receive information, but in contrast, individuals have stopped writing by hand and have forgotten many of the skills possessed before technology was available. Memorization has become obsolete with the use of Siri and Google, autocorrect has forgiven many misspelled words and personal communication has lost its substance.

Why is it important to understand the media is the message? McLuhan makes it apparent that if we begin to notice changes made by the medium within society, we can acknowledge the creation of a new medium. The early messages of the medium can help us better understand the effects it has on our culture and understanding. Being aware of these changes protects us from influences we would otherwise not be aware existed.

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