In The Medium is the Message, Marshall McLuhan argues that the medium with which a message is sent is itself another message; he claims that “the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium.” (p. 107). To McLuhan, “the message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” (p. 107).
McLuhan explains that “the content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print” and speech “is an actual process of thought, which is itself nonverbal.” (p. 107). He exemplifies this with the railway, which “did not introduce movement or transportation… but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions.” (p. 108). Just as the railway made movement across distances easier, and the introduction of writing and print made thought easier to convey than speech alone, the medium is able to shape and control the way humans associate and act. (p. 108). McLuhan uses the creation of the movie as an example: he argues that the speeding up of sound and images into a moving picture “carried us from the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure.” (p. 110). He also claims that “subliminal and docile acceptance of media impact has made them [the media] prisons without walls for their human users” with the explanation that “our human senses, of which all media are extensions, are also fixed charges on our personal energies, and that they also configure the awareness and experience of each one of us.” (p. 116).
McLuhan’s analysis of media as a catalyst on society is evidenced; for example, the introduction of writing as a way to convey thoughts has produced meticulous record keeping of information in numerous cultures. Now, the invention of the internet and computers allows for a new wave of instant connections to be formed across geographic boundaries that would have previously been arduous to create. However, his arguments about a change in personal energies based on media are not supported by the evidence he provides. McLuhan’s only source on personal changes is of a connection by C. G. Jung, who indicates that every Roman became inwardly a slave due to the saturation of slaves within Roman society. (p. 116).
Ultimately, McLuhan’s claim of the medium as a message could easily apply to modern communication technologies’ impact on society today, despite his lack of evidence for personal psychological impact. The invention of the computer, the internet, and social media has enabled us as humans to communicate in ways we previously could not, which in itself, impacts the way that we interpret communication as a society.