The Extension of Man by Marshall McLuhan Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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In this monumental work, Marshall Mcluhan rigorously examined mass media, a term which he coined how it affects pop culture and in turn how it affects human beings and their relations. According to McLuhan, there is no single factor in human life more important than technology and yet most users have little or no idea of how most technologies work or even that their own bodies are sophisticated collections of technological systems. McLuhan rejected Marxs view of production as a primarily determinant in social change and replaces it with technological inventions.

The most important aspect of media is the technical medium of communication. In this book, he provided insights on how technological innovations influence mans perception. It provided insights not only on what people communicate but on how the message is being communicated. One factor to consider into understanding the book is the milieu when it was written. McLuhan developed his theory when television was still is at its infancy and the personal computer was still being developed. However his book in a way predicted what is to come.

McLuhan established himself as the patriarch of media criticism and the high priest of pop culture after this book. He made a lot of revelations in this book; things which are imperceptible to most but have great impact. For instance, the existence of global village (another term he is credited of coining); the exploitation, manipulation and control of the individual; the medium is the message; and technology as extensions of human body. McLuhans global village is where media penetrates the whole of society and culture.

Today few would dispute that mass media have indeed decentralized modern living and turned the world into a global village. It is something that universalizes culture and existence where everyone shares something in common. The mass media have created a world of instant awareness to which the categories of perspective space and sequential time were irrelevant and in which a sense of private identity was untenable. He noted the fact that there are more people watching TV than attending church is something of no great consequence but McLuhan warns we become what we behold.

Constant television exposure has its drastic effects. Notice how plastic surgery and other artificial beauty enhancements have become highly popular. In this line, he provided an insightful view on how advertising manipulates the unsuspecting audience. He believed that the available media shapes human activity, more so than what media are used for. Content analysis misses the point and is not as effective because it is the medium that affects the body and the psyche in unconscious ways.

Early on the book he differentiated hot and cold medium and points that the medium is more powerful than the message. He touched on how women were turn into objects of desire and how they are in turn made to buy the products that will help them achieve desirability. He also discussed how man highlights the technological extensions but ignores the amputations. McLuhan said that technology is the extension of Man meaning for every technology that is invented, there is a corresponding internal technology (performing similar functions) within the physical bodies of people.

For example clothing is the man-made extension of the skins role in keeping us warm inside. He called media the extension of man he based his theory on the fact that content follows form, and the insurgent technologies give rise to new structures of feeling and thought, new manners of perception. He saw media as make happen agents rather than make-aware agents. Highly anecdotal and riddled with wordplay and notorious firing quips, McLuhan made a breakthrough in this book by breaking down how media and technology is conventionally perceived.

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