McLuhan: We are so similar to fish

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October 21, 2013 by Welcome to the Jungle

Marshall McLuhan

by Alex T.

For my Marshall McLuhan Assignment, I chose his analyze his quote “A fish does not realize its medium until that water changes through the adding of ink or poisons.”

I believe this quote means that we, as in the people of our imminent, ever-growing society (as represented by the fish in this metaphor) don’t realize the pollution in our own environments. A lot of how we are shaped to become these members of society is influenced through the media and the messages it conveys. The inks or poisons he refers to is directed to the morally incorrect messages we encourage on a day to day basis; the lines are blurred through the inky waters. The unrealistic expectations for women, the ridiculously high standards for men, the racial stereotypes, and the extreme emphasis on sex, drugs and rock and roll; they’re all poisons and they surround us and seeps into our pores just like poisonous water for a fish. My question is; if we’re only small fish in a big pond, then how do we expel the poisons or ink from our environment? We realize it’s wrong, of course; but that doesn’t make it any less tangible. Like the fish, we are forced to live in the polluted waters.
This quote relates to Media Studies in many different ways; McLuhan is directly speaking about a polluted medium. His references are indicating to a society functioning in an environment clouded with poisons or inks. Personally, I believe this seems like modern society cohabitating with all the new advancements in technology, where everyone’s thoughts are practically universal, where everything we’re shown is constantly a clouded vision- a blurred line. We, as in our generation, are constantly bombarded with the poisons inflicted on us by the build-up to today’s modern world.


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