McLuhan metaphor puts us as fish

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March 17, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle

kids and computerA School of Fish

by Anna G.

From the many insightful quotes Marshall McLuhan has made, I chose to analyse the one that resonated best with me. “A fish does not realize its medium until that water changes through the adding of ink or poisons.” Perhaps I simply love a good metaphor, but McLuhan’s words generate an interesting thought which should be considered.

First, I think that McLuhan is trying to convey the idea that we, as consumers of media, do not realize what we’re surrounded. All of the media we see everyday usually gets consumed subconsciously. When one starts to notice all of the things they absorb, its because they experience something out of the ordinary; something they do not like. Once this realization comes to the forefront, a person may begin to observe all other types of media. Like a fish, the media is the water that surrounds us all. Living in the same atmosphere for our whole lives usually makes us unable to be so attentive to it. Once something poisonous begins to seep into their regular activity, that is when they completely comprehend their environment, as they begin to think more critically.

For me, this concept captures the entire purpose of media studies. Without necessarily focusing on the “poisons,” we aim to be critical of the media that we see in the world. Becoming aware of our surroundings is an important asset to living in an age where everything and everyone is affected by media. Learning of concepts, conventions, constructs, and commercialism, all add to our knowledge of media and how it influences us.

This class teaches us to notice our environment, like we are the fish swimming through water.


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