Is your medium more important than your message?

Is the platform in which you choose to communicate something, actually more significant than the message itself?

After looking at a few famous communication models such as…


we can start to begin to dissect Marshall McLuhan‘s book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964 and more importantly, his famous phrase ‘The medium is the message’.


This theory took me a while to wrap my head around so if you’re new to it and thinking ‘wtf????’ whilst reading this blog, you’re definitely NOT alone.

I have tried to map it out as simply as I could in a way that made sense to me.

Main points of this theory:

  • The medium in which a message is sent is more significant than the message itself.
  • We need to understand that our context (social, cultural, historical, religious etc.) influence the way we interact with each other and with society at large.
  • Medium has changed a lot over time (from print media to the internet) and these changes indicate a change in ‘scale, pace and pattern’.
  • Medium is an extension of ourselves. For example, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our minds, to other people.

How this is use full to us:

  • By noticing change in societal or cultural ground and understanding the presence of a new message (new medium), we are able to identify what effects that new medium might have on society. Therefor, we can influence the development of the new innovation before it could become dangerous.

As McLuhan reminds us, “Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force.” (McLuhan 199)


McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw Hill, 1964.

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