“The medium is the message” a simple, yet profoundly appealing phrase.
Marshall McLuhan, an actor turned sociologist, published, in 1964, ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man‘, from which, the above quote is extracted.
Fascinated by print and newly invented television media, he asserted that the message is not the content of the television shows but, the way in which, innovative forms of media expressed something about man’s character and psyche. This rings true with today’s media platforms, inclusive of Facebook, Snap Chat and Netflix, of which, provide the idea that man is constantly striving for convenience with the production of new mediums.
In ‘Understanding media’, McLuhan uses the hammer as an example of a tangible object (medium) by which, man has been able to express himself beyond the physical limitations of the body. That is, his body could not hammer a hard nail into a piece of timber, but his mind could convey such things. Thus, the medium of the hammer represents the message, of which, is the determination of man to build and dominate his surroundings.
(THE WORLD MAKES SENSE AGAIN)
Likewise, TV and print mediums portray key elements of man’s desire to express self and communicate to a broader audience. Considering the technologies available in McLuhan’s lifetime, imagine how he would have felt about YouTube, Snap chat and, of course, the proliferation of Facebook.