Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory who was way ahead of his time. He was born 7/21/11 and passed away 12/31/80. I am particularly amazed at the paragraph from his book published in 1962, The Gutenberg Galaxy, where he basically predicts the invention of the internet:

“The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.”

Did I mention the year 1962! We did not even see the internet until the early 1990's, at least 10 years after his death.

Marshall McLuhan also came up with a tetrad of media effects. The tetrad looks at any technology's effect on society and divides them up into four categories. He viewed the four categories formed as questions:

  1. What does it enhance?
  2. What does it make obsolete?
  3. What does it retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
  4. What does it flip into when pushed to extremes?


When I think about this and apply it to social media and social media marketing, I come up with the following observations:

What does social media/social media marketing enhance? It enhances communication and speed. Things are done so much quicker via this method. A few clicks of a mouse, taps on some keys and you can communicate with tons of people in a matter of second.

What does it reverse? When it is pushed to its limits I think the reverse would be real people communicating with real people instead of via the internet, people going to actual stores to shop in, a direct experience instead of a virtual one.

What does it retrieve? From a personal perspective it retrieves connections between people who may have lost touch, from a marketing/business perspective it retrieves product information easily.

What does it obsolesce? To name a few things that become obsolete with social media/social media marketing we have: actual personal interaction, the need to go to a store, greeting cards or handwritten letters, the telephone.  

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    Holly M. is a part time student at LCCC taking a social media marketing class.


    September 2012