I feel like all of my problems this week stemmed from the phrase, “the medium is the message.”
Trying the understand this phrase involved an embarrassing large amount of time screaming at my computer screen, “WHY IS THE MESSAGE NOT THE MESSAGE?” Another large amount of time questioning my decision to actually go to university and choose BCM 112. So, to try and find some semblance of sanity, justification and understanding, I went to this fabulous thing called the internet and it told me…
That Marshall McLuhan is the one I have to blame for all of this. McLuhan is the one who introduced a lot of observations about the impact of new forms of expression and media. His most renowned (and hardest to understand) being, “the medium is the message.”
The phrase sums up a much deeper communication theory, which is that the medium in which we choose to communicate in, holds as much, if not more worth than the actual message itself. In other words, how the content is conveyed is much more influential than what is actually being conveyed. And so, the medium through which this message is conveyed, plays a vital role in the way it is received.
New media is transforming the manner in which information is delivered, even if it is the exact same information being presented. This new introduction of media brings with it massive social, psychological and structural effects. This is because the technology that transfers the message, changes us and the society is which we live in. An example is a car. The message of the car itself is the field of effects introduced by the car. The answer is its effects on society through the introduction of car accidents, pollution, gas stations, commuter lifestyle, etc.
McLuhan believes we should pay more attention to the impact on the world that the medium has (for better or for worse), rather than the messages it carries. By doing this, we can notice changes within our societal or cultural conditions and can identify any new medium ourselves, deciding if the effects could be detrimental or beneficial and work from there. The beauty of this theory is that even though the world is constantly changing, we can still continue to test his theory against the ever-growing new technologies emerging. I can’t guarantee that you’ll always understand it though.