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The Medium is The Message

“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. ” (Marshall McLuhan as cited in (Federman 2004)). When Marshall McLuhan wrote these word and especially “the medium is the message” in his book, Understanding Media, he did not know that he will start a new era in communication studies. Federman (2004) says that many people believe “medium” refers to the communications channel like television, radio and the internet, and presume the meaning of “message” is information or content.

Therefore, what does it mean? And can the medium be the same of the message? The new technologies of communication are influencing people behaviours, changing their way of thinking and adding more to their interests. This essay will explain the meaning of “the medium is the message”, and then it will discuss the effects of this statement on communication studies. The wrong conclusion that some people have it that the channel is more important than the information and the message can be ignored leaded to a wrong understanding of what McLuhan meant.

However, Changing tempo or pattern could be the meaning for “message” if adding extension to human’s senses is the correct meaning for “medium” as McLuhan believed (Federman 2004). Wood (2004:240) State that McLuhan had more than one meaning for his famous quote “the medium is the message” other than that the medium is more important than the message, he claims that by changing the letter E in the message to an A turning it to massage so the media can control the way of thinking and change people’s opinions and views by massaging their mind.

Furthermore, Wood (2004:240) believes that in this time the medium turning to be a big influence on communication. The gist of the definition of the medium that it is an extension of body or mind or senses tell people to look beyond the information in the message and try to find the unseen effects and changes that improved in the people thinking and mind by the influence of the medium. Federman (2004) argues that it is simply to say the personal consequences of any medium (extension of people body or mind) can introduce the people into new conditions and perspective of them and the new technology, moreover, change their way of thinking.

“it is only too typical that the “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium. ” (Marshall McLuhan as cited in (Federman 2004)). Federman (2004) adds that “The medium is the message” let people focus more on a new medium than noticing the changing in their cultural and societal conditions, and this early warning from McLuhan allowed people to indentify the new medium and the effects of it before it become obvious to everyone and he saved years for others.

Therefore, people after finding out the changing it can happen to the society and the way of living because of the new medium they have the ability to influence the development of the new technology before it affect people in the wrong way. Furthermore, because new technologies can promote multitasking people can engage in more than one task at the same time (Wood 2004:241). A good example for the meaning of Medium is adding extension to human’s senses, is that a hammer is extend to arm or the wheel extends people legs and feet, as well the extend of thoughts and mind is the language.

In addition, when McLuhan believed that the medium is the message he considered that the real purpose for news is the change that it does in the community position against crime and wars not the news stories themselves (Federman 2004). Moreover, in the case of movies and cinema, the message can be how it affects their attitude and behaviours not the real story of the movie, on the other hand, if people read this story instead of watching it in a movie or in a cinema, they will get another idea from it and it may affect them in a completely different way.

In conclusion, McLuhan changed many ways of thinking about communication after writing his famous quote “the medium is the message” when he turned at first people eyes to the real meaning of the medium that it is any extends for human’s body or mind, and then he let them to see more than the information in the message, but to know the influence that the medium can do on people.

Moreover, focusing more on the medium make people change many social habits and find the hidden messages beyond the real information. Finally after developing new technology, people can engage more than one task simultaneously.


Federman, M. 2004, “What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? ”, <http://individual. utoronto. ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage. htm>. Wood, J 2004, Communication Theories in Action, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Canada.

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