This week’s reading was an excerpt from Marshall McLuhan’s book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in which he argues that the medium is the message. His confusing and lengthy lists of examples both helped and hurt my understanding of this argument. McLuhan was arguing that the very being of a medium was as important if not more important than the content it can convey. Most people would say that the content of the media is the message, but McLuhan disagrees.
On Page 9, McLuhan writes, “The content or uses of such media are as diverse and ineffectual in shaping the form of human association.”  In this quote, McLuhan defends his point of view. He was talking about the electric light as a medium and how some could argue that things the electric light is used for, such as brain surgeries and night baseball games, are the light’s content, which further proves his point. Also on page 9 he writes, “… it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”  I feel as if this might be his clearest argument. I never thought that I could get talked into believing that a light bulb was a form of media, but here we are.
Another relatively clear argument he made was when he was proving General David Sarnoff’s statement false. “Suppose we were to say, ‘Apple pie is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way it is used that determines its value.’ Or, ‘The smallpox virus is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way it is used that determines its value.’”  In this passage, it seems obvious that the medium is the message. All of these things can be inherently good or bad and one does not have to use or misuse it to find that out. I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that he is using things like apple pie as a medium and whether or not I agree with it.
I think McLuhan’s argument is a bold and confusing one. I also think I might be taking it more literally than he had anticipated, but that’s what he gets for being so bold. I’m finding it hard to understand how the technology of new media or thought can be seen as media. I guess new technologies come from human experience and often necessity and the technology itself portrays what a society wants or values. I think there is more of a close and interconnected relationship between the medium and its content and that McLuhan did not discredit the content of media completely. Going back to the apple pie example, upon further thought, I guess could be a medium. It can portray love or friendship or caring, but are those content or is the content the actual pie? You can bake a pie for someone you love to show you appreciate them or just to show that you were thinking about them. I think the content and medium really work more hand-in-hand than strictly one or the other when shaping human experience.
Overall, McLuhan’s argument is confusing to me. Some examples he used I could agree with but others had me completely lost. History is so vast that this argument would have a hard time holding up to every single thing like it seems like he is trying to do.
 Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (London: Routledge, 1975), 9.
 Ibid, 9.
 Ibid, 11.