A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan continues. If he had lived Marshall would have been 100 on July 21, 2011. Join me in the countdown to his centennial, and an exploration of more of his observations on the way media work in the electric age in which we live.

The telephone calls!

Marshall McLuhan (May, 1964, age 52).  And we answer!

For your information, some questions:  Why do we feel compelled to answer a ringing telephone?  Why does a ringing phone in a movie or play create such tension?  Why can a silent phone create such a terrible feeling of loneliness?

The answer is simple the telephone by its very nature demands a partner.

Me (December, 2010, age 58). What about the calls of other media?

If McLuhan is right the telephone has a special power over us.  But is this power unique to the telephone?  Not unique, surely.  But it’s hard to deny that McLuhan is on to something.  Certainly, I don’t feel the same compulsion to open packages, letters, or e-mail, open a door, start an engine, or turn on a television or an electric light.

To protect yourself you may wish to put your cell phone on vibration, now.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964, p.268.

Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Friday, December 10th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

Leave a Reply