The (Social) Medium is the Message

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Over 50 years ago, Marshall McLuhan studied the media as a way of understanding society and why we live the way we do. A professor of English at the University of Toronto, he put forth the idea that the media is simply and extension of man’s central nervous system and that radio and TV are leading to “an electrical re-tribalization of the west”.

McLuhan once illustrated this idea by explaining that “It doesn’t matter much what you say on the telephone. The telephone as a service is a huge environment, and that is the medium. And the environment effects everyone. What you say on the telephone effects few. And the same with radio or any other medium. What you print is nothing compared to the effect of the printed word.”

He continued….

“The printed word sets up a paradigm, a structure of awareness which effects everybody in very drastic ways and it doesn’t very much matter what you print as long as you go on with that form of activity.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to radio and TV, of course. McLuhan often pointed to the cubism movement as an example of this phenomenon in the world of art. I immediately think of an animated gif in these terms. If McLuhan were alive today, he would be able to point to the internet and social media in particular as being the ultimate example of the medium being the message.

And your client wants to know if they absolutely need to be on Twitter?