Jun 20, 2021

3 min read

Strengths & Limitations of McLuhan’s Ideas

Have you ever heard of Marshall McLuhan or his theory on technological determinism? Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that aims to provide a causative link between technology and a society’s nature. It tries to explain as to whom or what could have a controlling power in human affairs. The theory questions the degree to which human thought or action is influenced by technological factors. Marshall McLuhan is the philosopher and media theorists who coined the thought behind the theory that “the medium is the message.” Essentially, the theory emphasizes that the way we send and receive information is more important than the information itself.

Marshall McLuhan

3 Strengths of McLuhan’s Ideas

Internet of everything.
  • Marshall McLuhan in 1964 suggested that technologies of mass media make sure culture transmission in a social fabric which ultimately changes man’s social behavior. He states “We shape our tools and they in turn shape us.” This idea can be applicable to current day and how social media plays a role in our every day lives. Social media can be seen as a tool that we manipulate, but because of our manipulation, then manipulates us (the users).

3 Limitations of McLuhan’s Ideas

  • A critique of technological determinism is that technology never forces itself on members of the society. Man creates technology and chooses to use them. The choice of using technology and experiencing its effects therefore lies in the hand of a human being.
Humans choose the media.
  • This approach fails to provide means of understanding the structure of the work of the structures themselves. It can be seen a theory that generalizes the mass media.
Global Village

I find that McLuhan’s observations are incredibly useful, especially considering the time period in which he defined this theory. McLuhan established an idea that the world would be interconnected and led by the power of mass media. Social media would then come to use decades later, and would make his theory of interconnectedness a reality.