Narcissus's Facebook Profile Essay

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In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLluhan uses the Greek myth of Narcissus as a metaphor for our inability to notice the gradual societal changes engendered by new extensions of ourselves. McLuhan writes that because “the 'content' of any medium is always another medium” (McLuhan 8), we tend to focus on the obvious, not that the message of that medium, the “social consequences... [that]...result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves” (McLuhan 7). An example he uses is that the content of a novel is print, and so we focus on the plot, not the effect of the novel on society. This syndrome he terms the “Narcissus trance,” a pseudo-hypnotic state induced by using technology …show more content…
In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLluhan uses the Greek myth of Narcissus as a metaphor for our inability to notice the gradual societal changes engendered by new extensions of ourselves. McLuhan writes that because “the 'content' of any medium is always another medium” (McLuhan 8), we tend to focus on the obvious, not that the message of that medium, the “social consequences... [that]...result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves” (McLuhan 7). An example he uses is that the content of a novel is print, and so we focus on the plot, not the effect of the novel on society. This syndrome he terms the “Narcissus trance,” a pseudo-hypnotic state induced by using technology to extend ourselves. This tendency to become entranced by new technologies, and the fact that a medium will conceal within itself as content another medium, conspire to conceal the fact that the medium is the message. “Prediction and control,” McLuhan writes, “consist in avoiding this subliminal state of Narcissus trance.” And once free of the trance, he continues, we can understand and avoid our tendency to remake ourselves to meet the specific demands of our own extensions.
McLuhan does not believe that we extend ourselves randomly; it is when faced with the “physical stress of superstimulation of various kinds [that] the central nervous system acts to protect itself by a strategy of autoamputation,” or the creation of a new medium
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