On Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is NOT the Message

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”

Marshall McLuhan

When we say truth depends upon the use of language, it’s not because truth changes, but because our technologies alter our perceptions of reality.

Martin Heidegger taught us that technology is a means of revealing truth.

That’s because technology introduces new language and language shapes reality.

Nicholas Carr points this out in his 2011 book, The Shallows that every new technology alters human thought by offering new metaphors to describe reality.

These technologies ALWAYS function as a mirror that reflect us and as Marshall McLuhan points out, residues of each technology remain an integral part of the language we use to describe the next technological advancement.

Film, for example, is theater on the screen.

Not only that, but with every new technology we are given new language to describe ourselves.

In the beginning, maps indicated direction. Eventually mapmakers created representations proportional to space.

Lewis Carroll introduced us to the ridiculous notion that we ought to create a map on a scale of 1:1 to match the territory exactly.

In his famous fable, On Exactitude in Science, Jorge Luis Borges explores what would happen if a map on this scale outlasted the territory it represented.

Jean Baudrillard takes us one step farther by suggesting it is no longer the map that precedes the territory – but the precession of simulacra.

The representation is all there is.

Baudrillard teaches us “when the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning.”

In the provocative 1967 work, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, Marshall McLuhan pauses to appreciate the uncharted territory we are mapping:

“Nothing can be further from the spirit of the new technology that “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

You can’t go home again.”

Let me tell you a secret:

You are home.

“Until writing was invented, man lived in acoustic space: boundless, directionless, horizonless, in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion, by primordial intuition, by terror.”

We are seers.

We are hearers.

We are readers.

We are writers.

We play games.

We are games.

Aldous Huxley taught us, “An unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie.”

The medium is NOT the message.

You are.

The Medium Is Not the Message