Sunday, October 21, 2012

McLuhan and Media Psychologists

Technology advances at a rapid rate, most of the time as a help to society but at times can also create a hindrance to societal norms. McLuhan's ideas of the "medium is the message" and his views on "the global village" are great examples of why it is important to understand various forms of technology not only as citizens of the world but also as media psychologists. 

McLuhan said, "The extension of any one sense displaces the other senses and alters the way we think, the way we see the world, and ourselves." (Youtube, 2006) This is what technology does to us.  We focus our attention, thoughts, sight, hearing on a piece of technology, sometimes distracting and impairing our senses.  This does not mean that all technology is bad, however.  While using a cell phone when driving a car can impair one's reaction time, the car itself is a piece of technology important to society. 

McLuhan used the phrase "the medium is the message" to show the importance of context in the materials we take for granted.   The car allowed the development of highways, which allowed for people to move into suburbs.   To understand the meaning of the car, you have to look at everything together, such as the environment and the car. According to the Library and Archives of Canada, "McLuhan greatly admired important modernist art...because their work reconfigured the figure-ground relationship in ways that offered a critical commentary on culture and society."  This last statement is how media psychologists need to view their field. 

In order to properly examine how technology, new media, electronic media and so-on impacts or affects society we need to understand the message found in these various mediums.  In McLuhan on Youtube, he said, "I think of technologies as extensions of our own bodies, of our own faculties, whether clothing, housing, more familiar kinds of technologies, like wheels and stirrups and such are of various parts of the body.  The need to amplify the human powers in order to cope with various environments brings on these extensions, whether tools or furniture, these amplifications of our powers sorts of deifications of man I think of as technologies."

We use our phones to connect with people in the same room, find comfort in an online game when we feel uncomfortable in our real life, and want convenience over function when choosing the next thing to buy. His previous statement is a good example of this.  We want to "amplify the human powers in order to cope with various environments," and use technology as an extension of ourselves.  The way use technology creates what McLuhan calls a "Global Village."

It's an interesting concept, of course. We are connected in a broader, faster way and Eric McLuhan says it describes "the effect of radio in the 1920's in bringing us in faster and more intimate contact with each other than ever before in human experience." Where radio brought us together, for example families gathered to listen to shows, today it seems that technology drives a wedge through personal contact while enhancing a digital one.  According to Nielson, the average American home has three or more televisions and I know in my home, each member is watching something different, only occasionally gathering to watch the same program. Smart phones are also great tools that are used to connect digitally, but we also hide behind them with social networking and texting becoming a critical part of our everyday lives.  The fact that we can connect, digitally, using several different electronic mediums does create a global village, but as media psychologists we will have to examine and understand if this technology has or will affect the social and cultural construct we have built. 

 Marshall McLuhan on YouTube. (2006). Retrieved from

Marshall McLuhan speaks. (2012). Retrieved from

 Marshall McLuhan: The global village. (1960). Retrieved from
 Wolfe, T. (1968). The pump house gang. New York: Bantam Books.

More than Half the Homes in U.S. Have Three or More TVs | Nielsen Wire. (2009, July 20). Retrieved from

Image References

Matulis, S. (2010, September 19). Marshall McLuhan said: “The medium is the message”, and we agreed « Sofia Matulis. Sofia Matulis. Retrieved from

Part 2 : MIND - OPENING NUMBERS VIDEO 2011 ABOUT HUMANITY AND TECHNOLOGY ! (n.d.). [Video File]. Retrieved from

Rebecca (2010, March 30). Face Book and the “Global Village” « Rebeccamarie3's Blog.Rebeccamarie3's Blog. Retrieved from

No comments:

Post a Comment