As I’m reading Sherry McElhannon’s post on McLuhan, I’m sharing her resentment over the author’s assumption that we’re all “technological idiots” for our innate tendency to fixate on how media are used (even while, like Sherry, I’m not completely sure what all McLuhan’s getting at). But I get the “message” part: The effects of media–how they shape our behavior and relationships to one another–are what really count, not how we use them. Still, not even McLuhan could escape being a technological idiot himself, as is demonstrated in this clip from a 1976 episode of the Today Show, where McLuhan waxed philosophic ad nauseum about how appropriately presidential candidates Carter and Ford used the T.V. medium during the debates:
At about 3:20, you can catch McLuhan lamenting the candidates’ poor use of the medium. He says, “I never saw a more atrocious misuse of the T.V. medium. When it broke down, it was the thing rebelling against misuse.” Interestingly, in this entire interview, McLuhan seems to be pointing to the importance of understanding how media are used … and how NOT to use them.