Argument essay on medium

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1
An Essential Worker
The word “medium,” according to Marshall McLuhan, “shapes and controls the scale and
form of human association and action” (9). Without the medium, life would have meaning
behind it. If one were to ask the common person what the word “medium” meant, it would be
easy to guess the types of responses. However, there are many common misconceptions of this
word. McLuhan confirms this by saying “any medium has the power of imposing its own
assumption on the unwary” (15). In order to understand the word further, The Oxford English
Dictionary will provide primary evidence from the denotations of “media” and “medium.”
From the OED, many common denotations appear, such as “a middle quality, degree or
condition”, “a person who is supposed to be the organ of communications from departed spirits”,
and “any liquid vehicle” used in painting (555). While the definitions above are widely known,
some interesting meanings popped up, specifically, “something which serves of exchangeable
value” and “a screen fixed in front of a source of light in order to throw a colored light upon the
stage” (555). It is interesting to note that these two meanings imply that there needs to be
something in the middle running in order for two sides to function. Furthermore, the OED
defines media as “newspapers, radio, television” and “middle” (542). Following the denotations,
a group of friends and family were given a survey of what they thought the word “medium”
meant. The majority of answers received were “not big, not small” (size) and “a spiritual guide,”
while some said, “between little and much.” In addition, another group of people were asked
what they thought the meaning of “media” meant. The majority of answers was somewhat along
the lines of “a platform where people broadcast information to a large audience.” One person’s
answer, surprisingly, was “something immaterial, like an idea or emotion.” In other words, he
was referring to technology. However, technology is not synonymous with media/medium in any
way. A medium is concrete and is something one can physically see, while technology is abstract
and immaterial. Therefore, misuses of these words will lead to a personal definition that will help
people understand the proper interpretation of “medium.”
As a final point, the definition of “medium” is an essential part of something that when
combined with other components, make up the foundation of something bigger. The medium in
this context is one of the important pieces in the middle that is needed for two sides to cooperate.
It may be small by itself, but when combined with all the other smaller pieces, complete the big
picture. Without this connection, it would be impossible to perform everyday tasks, such as
driving or turning a light switch on, since these tasks require different components working with
each other. For example, a train is an essential part when describing transportation, but when
combined with other key components like airplanes and cars, make up the whole foundation of
transportation. The same thing can be said with an exchange. Money is an essential part when
describing an exchange, but when combined with other key components such as value and a
bank, make up the entirety of an exchange. Whether big or small, the medium is ultimately an
essential worker doing its job behind the scenes of everyday life.