Is the Medium Really the Message?

The Medium is described as “any extension of ourselves” (McLuhan 1964).

While the Message is described as any change in “scale or pace or pattern” that is “introduced into human affairs” (McLuhan 1964) by an exterior invention or innovation (Federman 2004).

These resources explain to us that the Medium is the Message equates to an understanding of the “nature and the characteristics” of the medium is exemplified by the “changes effected” (Federman 2004).

The Medium is the Message can be explained in a way where the medium is a new gender-specific poster outlining a women’s natural body created by a female artist. The message is the effect this poster has on an audience, which could be disgust from the divergence of ideal body images OR admiration for the natural beauty upholded in the poster. However, The Medium is the Message comes to an understanding that the true ‘message’ is the medium, which is therefore the poster. It was powerful enough to entice this reaction from the audience, this change in their views, which is why it is the message.

Mark Federman explains The Medium is the Message for a theatrical production is “not the musical or the play being produced, but perhaps the change in tourism the production may encourage” which would therefore mean the production was the message as it was capable of enticing such change. 

“Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force.”

McLuhan pg199

It is important to understand the meaning of The Medium is The Message because we are trained to notice specific changes in our social and culture state. It brings us to understand “a new message” being the “effects of a new medium” (Federman 2004). This process will allow us to reach the understanding of the true message much quicker than any other analysis of a medium.
The Medium is the Message is a significant theory to understand because it can tell us how certain “extensions of ourselves” may be beneficial or detrimental to our society. It was difficult to understand at first but Mark Federman’s “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?” really helped me grasp the concept of it.

Federman M (2004) What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message? McLuhan Program in Culture And Technology. 18th March 2020

McLuhan M (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York McGraw Hill. 18th March 2020

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