“Do you know Marshall McLuhan?”
“We’ve just heard the stories.”
“What kind of stories?”
“Like, nobody knows what he looks like. He has facial reconstructive surgery every three years.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
“Is it true about McLuhan? Is he building an army?”
It seems that I owe Paul lunch or an over-priced coffee that he is so fond of. He greeted me with, “You get your wish today. We’re doing McLuhan.”
“Not my wish,” I said.
And then I made an unofficial bet, because gambling is bad or forbidden, that he and I would be doing the talking. He because he is the professor. Me because I have read and loved Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan. Also, me because I tend to be a talker…at times. Also a second time, because McLuhan is a dense read at the best of times.
I was wrong. Not on the dense read, but I was not the only talker. In fact, I was able to remain silent and let the students learn by doing. The assignment, skim through an excerpt of an interview with McLuhan looking for hot and cold media, the medium IS the message, and global village. I found none of them, but then again I was reading the interview. I did not follow the instructions. I am a special and unique snowflake.
What is all of that, Fight Clubisms aside?
Media is either hot or cold. Media is anything that extends human organs. This can include clothing…in McLuhan’s world there are a lot of things affecting all of us and we may not be aware of them…pencil, chopstick…
Hot media is something like a photograph or radio broadcast. With hot media you get all of the information. You do not need to do anything.
Cold media is something like…oh, television. Cold media is engaging, requiring you to do something to get value…with television you have to interpret the images, which gets into the technological aspects of a television and the biologic limitations of the human eye and brain. Suffice to say, television is a cold media. Television engages you, although television is not an extension of the visual sense, but of the tactile, but that is another story…
The light bulb. You probably take it for granted. You should not. You probably think that light is the message of a light bulb. After all a light bulb emits light, which means the light must be the message. McLuhan would say that the light bulb IS the message; the medium of the light bulb is the message; not that the light isn’t important, but light is subordinate to the light bulb…“The content or message of any particular medium has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb.”
Global village via brain washing…oops jumped ahead. Because of technology human kind will eventually become one happy village. Sounds great. What if I told you, that we would get there this way? Tribes will form as people band together over the media they consume. Eventually, as humans tend to do, these disparate tribes will merge, absorb one another, war with each other, and eliminate those who refuse to join the winning global village and in the end there will be one global village where all of humanity will be…the same. If there is only one global village, who are you? You are not a special and unique snowflake.
You may now return your seat tray to the upright position.