Is the medium really the message ? Marshall McLuhan challenged conventional definitions when he claimed that ‘the medium is the message’ With this claim, he stressed how channels differ, not only in terms of content but also in regards to how they awaken and alter thoughts and senses of the audience, the audience being us, society. Along with this idea he popularised ideas that channels of the media are the dominant force that must be understood in order to know how the media influences society and culture.
McLuhan’s analogy of the light-bulb states that the light itself is more significant within media theory than the content/information that the light-bulb is alighting. I disagree with this statement as unlike ancient eons whereby hard stone carvings replaced books, the communication and information being transported between people was very slow and unclear. Only a few people in society knew how to read, so this left others as mere listeners. However in modern times, as much as the primary source of where we get our media intake is important, we are not limited in the same way that we used to be.It could be argued that McLuhan’s theory is quite outdated now and doesn’t have much relevance or can’t apply to today’s society anymore because we have more mediums now in which we can access information.
McLuhan expressed that the medium is symbolic to any communicative act that we do and we adapt to the media environment that we are exposed to the most, so in other words we limit ourselves and do not expand our knowledge or what is being expressed to us. I disagree with this also because as technology expands on a day-to-day basis we are virtually limitless to what we have access to nowadays- We are not submissive in the way we react to certain types of media anymore and we do not take it at face value. As humans we have grown to yearn for more and we like to be more knowledgeable and aware of what is happening in the world around us. For example listening to news on the television will ignite an automatic reaction to search for it on the internet to see if there is any further information.
In some cases the medium can be the message if you allow the media to have too much of an impression on your thoughts and opinions. The mass media can sometimes make people powerless to resist to messages of the media. Marxists would say that us as the consumers are ‘drugged’ ‘addicted’ or ‘hypnotised’ by some of the medias messages. For example in the circumstance of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement when a mass amount of sometimes unarmed black people were being killed by the police, certain media outlets would use images of the victims in a bad light to give of the impression that they were ‘criminals’ or ‘thugs’. However when you did you own research or went on to different mediums of the media such as Twitter and Instagram, you were able to find video footage of them being mistreated and you could find positive pictures of them with their family and it would change your perspective on how the media was trying to manipulate the situation.
As much as McLuhan’s theories were the basis of media practices, his ideas are somewhat outdated perhaps to the fast technological society that we live in today. This is due to the amount of communication and access that we have and partake in that expands our knowledge. However his theories could still be applicable to those who do not have access to large amounts of the media and only rely on one source.