Notes from ‘The Gadget Lover’

‘The Gadget Lover’ from Marshall McLuhan’s, Understanding Media: The extension of Man

McLuhan introduces the experience of numbness caused by irritation in man and urgency to regain equilibrium upon encountering dissonance between the perception and experience. He presents this by clarifying the meaning of the commonly misinterpreted Greek myth of Narcissus, where he explains that the youth Narcissus became numb upon experiencing the disharmony between the believed self and reflection he saw in the water. The moment of shock numbed his perceptions and he was slave of the idea of representation experienced in the water. This myth illustrates our growing relationship with technology since the age of invention, which has and continues to produce a similar numbness in relation to these extensions that modify us. With this McLuhan begs upon our ever embracing technology culture to become aware of the impact and implications. He pleads us to question and speculate our servo-mechanical behavior that perpetually electrified to modify and leverage technology. Such that we have become analogous to bee that facilitates technological augmentation and expansion. However, it highlights that we as a collective are responsible for fostering the environment for proliferation of technological advancements by generating sense of  pressure that works as irritant and the prompt innovation and invention as counter-irritants. The present day innovation and its direct relation to our physical life has stimulated awareness of technology as an extension of our physical body. And this heightened sense of conciseness of the role of technology has cultivated an existential dialogue that has summoned everyone to participate. Thus McLuhan thoughtfully culminated the chapter by stating that “In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin” point towards a collective burden and responsibility.

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