Extensions, Perceptions & McLuhan

Extensions,Perceptions and McLuhan

Perceptions and Extensions are fundamental to what the Visionary, Marshall McLuhan refers to when speaking about “the new electronic interdependence that recreates the World in the image of the global village” and “The medium is the message (McLuhan,1964).” What is Art then? McLuhan views, “Art is anything you can get away with (McLuhan, 1964).” So, in creating Art you need to see, discover and explore.  Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. Human beings are visual receptors with a set for sensory communication. Seeing establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, our language of communication, verbal, visual as we are sensory beings. We can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by an ever-pulsating HeArt, the World, since the time of McLuhan that HeArt has begun to pulsate even faster as technology advances and we as a Global Cultural Evolution(GCE) within this paradigm. The relationship between what we see and what we know is never settled. The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe/perceive. I would say we are always looking at the relationship between things and ourselves. The reciprocal nature of vision is more fundamental than that of spoken dialogue.

“Media as extensions of ourselves, Understanding Media the Extensions of Man, “It is the persistent theme of this book that all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed” and “Any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex. Some of the principal extensions, together with some of their psychic and social consequences, are studied in this book(McLuhan,1964).” These statements made me ponder how our World functions and my part within it. We as human beings are always moving forward as time never stands still but pushes us forward onto the new day. How we move through space and time and how every human being plays a role in this vast Universe, on planet Earth. The visual image that sparks an image in my mind are those images of time lapsed photography where you can view the movement of our world day in and day out the lines of energy traced and viewed from the satellites above are all proof of our interconnectedness. A key concern for McLuhan and one of mine too, what will the implications of this evolution towards the extension of the collective human consciousness be that is facilitated by electronic media? Will we remain humanly interested in others or do we just speed on through this technological fury? Do we need to slow down or push faster? Exploration and discovery are two components that we as human beings have utilized throughout history it is the lymph of humanity, the key is how to keep that ball rolling in a world of instant gratification and speed and stay focused?

Works Cited

Gordon, W. Terrance. ” Critical Reception to Understanding Media.” Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Critical Edition. Ed. W. Terrance Gordon. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 2003. 545-558.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994.







McLuhan: My new hero … sort of:)

For starters, I think we can all agree on one thing … we could go on and on about Marshall McLuhan. Summing this up in 500-750 words, I think, is near impossible. So forgive me if this blog post seems to jump around.
Through reading “Understanding Media. The Extension of Man,” and the two videos for this week, I thought Marshall McLuhan was negative or pessimistic to the consequences of technology. I agree to a certain extent – and don’t get me wrong I think the man is a genius – but I don’t think all technology or moving toward an electronic society is all a bad thing.
When McLuhan would say things like “Environment is a technological thing,” and “man fears new environments, but doesn’t mean all environments are dangerous,” it really hit me how everything is technology. How everything spirals from one medium into a new medium. “The new is made up of the old,” said by McLuhan. I guess I never really stopped to think about that. I also don’t know how McLuhan had a metaphor for LITERALLY everything, but I’m thoroughly impressed.
McLuhan used terms like “roughing up” in a sense that new mediums “rough up” the old. However, I think some new mediums make the old mediums better. For instance, AM and FM radio. AM radio still exists – and I think always will. But FM is improved quality. That spiraled into the visual mediums.
In the video “This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Message,” I loved when he said everyone has their own set of goggles. Each generation has a different set, but everyone thinks they’re looking at the same thing and you’re not. That hit me hard, because I think that’s exactly what is still happening today, especially when it comes to the “virtual” world of social media.
“Are you living in today’s world?” That question asked I think goes back to everyone looking in their own set of goggles. What is truly today’s world when we all perceive it differently and see it differently.
“Any extension of ourselves — results from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”
He then goes on to say that new patterns of human association tend to eliminate jobs. This can be said about the way McDonald’s is even going with the machines where you go up and order, just like the ones at GetGo and Sheets. Human interaction isn’t necessary anymore. He says this is a negative impact of modern technology. I think job loss is not a good thing, but I think with the ongoing protests for wages of $15 an hour, it shows how everyone should be careful what they ask for, because clearly we can all be replaced – going back to the fearful environment.
Again, I could quote McLuhan forever … but “privacy doesn’t have the same meaning anymore.”
If that quote was true then, what would he say now with social media and the way the internet is used? Or what would he say if he saw the documentary we watched last week “Living in Public.”
I’m not going to lie, his use of “cold” and “hot” media was a bit confusing to me. I sat in Starbucks for far too long rereading those pages, trying to wrap my head around what would be a “hot” media and a “cold” media today. So please, if anyone can help me out on this topic, I would really appreciate it.
McLuhan discussed even how technology alters people physically. “Man in the normal use of technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds ever new ways of modifying his technology.” As body shaming continues to take social media by storm, I think this is an example today how McLuhan said technology changes how we view our bodies and alters the image we have of ourselves. Everyone tries so hard to look like the models that are plastered everywhere on the internet. The constant seeking public approval through social media affects how we view ourselves. For instance, a picture posted on Instagram – if that person doesn’t get a certain amount of likes, they take it down and might have lower self-efficacy (wow, something from last week stuck – ha).
“It’s a persistent theme of this book that all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed.” McLuhan said how communication has an extensive connection with transportation, like the wheel, boats, the railroad. But I even think the use of “speed” relates to the instantaneous world we live in. Everyone wants information, and they want it NOW. I see this everyday in my job. It’s digital first. Facebook live as soon as you get to a scene so people can tune in as it’s happening in real-time. Post information to the website and send it as a push notification so people get it instantly on their phone. Communication is hyper speed now. Not sure if we can get my faster, or we might all become physics and predict what’s going to happen before it does. However, McLuhan also says the speed has made everything more understanding. The use of Google and search engines has made information available at our finger tips, making us all able to take in more information quicker.
That same thing can be said about numbers. The use of social media has allowed people to spread their message from the comfort of their home around the world. When going Facebook live for work, we will get people who comment “Hi from Hawaii,” and so on. Our goal is to go “viral,” and McLuhan alluded to that same concept when he said, “The pleasure of being among the masses is the sense of the joy in the multiplication of numbers, which has long been suspect among the literate members of Western Society.” However, I felt McLuhan focused on the negative of the power of spreading information that quickly and to mass amounts of people when he talked about the first televised war, the weapons, the crime, etc. Yes, I think there are negative effects on the death and destruction kids can see on TV and the internet now, but there’s also positives to being able to learn with those mediums. One thing that really stuck with me was when he said the education level outside the school room is now higher than inside the school room. But now schools are starting to incorporate that inside the classroom, bringing iPads, tablets and online homework into the curriculum and classroom.
In the nearly completely digital world we live in today, I think what McLuhan said about print will always be true. “It is usually forgotten that without prints and blueprints, without maps and geometry, the world of modern sciences and technologies would hardly exist.” But even more so, if it was forgotten then, I really think it’s forgotten now in the world of GPS, Siri, printed newspapers down to one, maybe two days a week. If it wasn’t for anything that came before the internet, paper maps made by voyagers, etc., we wouldn’t have the luxuries we have today. I call them luxuries, I think McLuhan might disagree with me on that and call them dangerous. The printed world is an “art” form that I think should be preserved for as long as possible. Hopefully it never goes away.
McLuhan says we live in a world where everything changes so rapidly. Yes, that’s true. But I think some concepts, metaphors and instances that he wrote about and studied his entire life will never change no matter what medium or message it may become in the future. New mediums are going to continue to form out of the “old” (the ones we have now, soon to be old), that’s inevitable based on McLuhan’s views on technology. Everyone always says, “If I would’ve thought (x) amount of years ago I would see the things I do today, I would’ve thought I was crazy.” In fact, my grandmother said that this past weekend about if she would’ve known years ago that she would take pictures with the same device she can talk on and search the internet at the same time, she would’ve laughed. Well, I cant wait to see what’s next.
But all-in-all … the biggest thing I learned this week from McLuhan (kidding)… if you’re ever in trouble or need help, yell “fire,” not “help.” That I won’t forget!

SCT, Self-Efficacy, and the Reinvention of Myself

First, a consideration for the reader: I am very happy with who I am and am thankful for the opportunities that have lead me to be the person I am today. This connection of SCT and Self-efficacy was not written to induce any reaction other than that of a recollection and attribution of these concepts to my life.

Without going into much detail, who I am today is not who I was ten years ago. This can be said of nearly every person (with a few exceptions) and I am aware that the claim is not a radical one. SCT is often simplified to the concept of Reciprocal Determinism, the relationship and dynamics between an individual’s person, environment, and behavior. In my life, all three of these (in my own self-analysis) were consistently negative. From the angle of the person, I existed as someone with exceedingly low self-esteem (low self-efficacy), which was especially clear on a social level. My environment was one that involved high amounts of stress (not that I was in any physical danger) and underwent several changes in my physical and social environments during my teen years. My behavior fit within the textbook predictions of someone existed within the person and environment that I described, and as I mentioned earlier, the clearest example of this was in my social (lack of social rather) life. Upon reflection of how I saw my reality at the time, it is understandable that my self-efficacy was low and how my self-efficacy really dictated my responses to the stimuli in my life. My behavior accurately depicted my current emotional/mental state and a physical record of this could be found on my first social media accounts (which are now, thank God, deleted and lost in history.) My first posts/tweets were more negative, vague, and mostly held a sense of dissatisfaction. Now this is not to say that I was posting for the sake of recognition or feedback, but with the introduction of these new mediums, it became an opportunity to express the negative view of my reality and be rewarded by a slight release of endorphins. This pattern went on for several years, and really hindered my self-efficacy to grow in a direction that was healthy. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision to attribute my reality (person, environment, behavior) as an opportunity to grow that I saw a shift in my self-efficacy. I started to read more, enter difficult social situations intentionally, and made a habit to learn about my environment from micro and macro levels. This meant that when I was interacting at all on my social media accounts, I would create a conscious effort to post more positive content. Essentially I was training my person and behavior to become more prepared for the inevitable environmental factors that would have crippled me before. This transformation is an ongoing process that I still work on today. I still will catch myself posting/tweeting content that is not in some way positive to myself, and I still will struggle with certain social situations if they are unfamiliar or uncommon. But I can look back and see a change in how my self-efficacy is now at a more stable and confident level, as well as recognize that I can attribute negative influences in my reality as positive learning opportunities.


In reflection of the film “We Live in Public,” I think that many thoughts that I have had about the online world and especially social media were confirmed and laid out on a physical stage that may never happen again (legally.) Josh Harris’s unique ability to gather talent and personality from all ends of the spectrum for his websites and especially the small “city” he developed really point to how influential and intoxicating online membership can be. I believe that after all of the information was brought out about his projects, people saw the signs of some of the serious repercussions of living in an online-immersive environment. I do not think that today, it is thought of as often, or is rather joked about considering the obvious chokehold that online relevancy has on our American society. On the surface, it would appear that self-efficacy is high among those who interact online, but upon any further research, it is clear that depression, aggression, and defensive tendencies are at the peak of this new generation that has been brought up in both a physical and virtual world. Nearing the end of the filming of Josh Harris’s project, it becomes clear that emotionally, members (rats) of his society were less confident and much more willing to carry out the requests (commands) of those in charge.

“If you walk up to someone and tell them to take off their pants, they won’t do it. But if you walk up with a video camera and ask ‘Take off your pants.’ They’ll do it. The eyeballs that perceive that moment give it power.” This quote from on of the filmmakers accurate describes today’s online world. “Do it for the Vine!” and other pressures make the online world now a place that can almost incite anyone to do anything, simply because others are watching. SCT’s “reinforcements” are evident as soon as you enter any online profile, where now the rewards of the virtual world are now more important (or rather perceived as more important) than that of the physical world. We are creating an environment that is often not mentally healthy, but is also dangerously Orwellian.