“The Medium Is The Message:” What McLuhan Would Think of Today’s Communication.

First and foremost, I want to say that McLuhan, no matter how controversial, seems to have been a very intelligent man, and i really valued many of the thoughts he shared in this video. 

If he were alive today, I think he would very much appreciate online communication, even if he does seem to hold the opinion that various electric technologies can sometimes promote illiteracy. When he was questioned about violence as one means of a search for identity, he said that the alternative to violence is dialogue. Speaking clearly and intelligently. Technologies have always been one key to engaging in dialogue, and if technologies are keys to that, then the internet is the master key to all doors. The internet is a vast and extremely open area of information, where nearly everything can be found. It is possible to be fooled on the internet, and not everything one sees will be true, but this openness and ability to access multiple means of communication (comments, emails, status updates, etc.) also leads to intelligent discussions on all fronts. It also allows those that are more shy to speak in public to blossom, as they can use the screen to hide until they are ready to step out into a more viewable position. This openness can also cause ignorance and rude remarks–more violence. However, McLuhan would probably argue that this can now be more readily combated with intelligent dialogue.  McLuhan would also see that in this new openness of communication, that literacy is developed much faster, and has adapted to a whole new level. “A reader is often a quick decision maker,” he says. Readers have to guess quickly as they read, and therefore they make better decisions and can even be better executives. If that is true, then the readers of today’s society are even better than they were ten years ago, because on the internet information is flooded at the average user at a near alarming rate, and so there is so much to read that every day people are shaping their literacy skills, whether they want to or not.

Thinking back to his “The Medium IS the Message” line, however, he would also probably think that the message was now extremely tangled and mixed up, and could be easily forgotten or confused. There is a positive and negative to each technology, though, and he would probably promote the continued push for the positive and the caution that one does not let these technologies cause one to forget themselves in the greater scheme of things.


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