Marshall McLuhan: “Does a fish know it’s wet?”

Cartoon by Bill Abbott. Source: Toon Pool

Notes for Introduction to Mass Communication class.

From Chapter 1 of the Media Literacy and Culture textbook:

  • Media saturate our everyday lives. A central – or the central – cultural force in our society.
  • Culture is learned.
  • U.S.: lowest rate of savings of any industrialized nation.
  • Americans spend more than $12 billion per year on cosmetic surgery.
  • We are defined by our culture.
  • Culture is built and maintained through communication. Culture shapes the way we think, feel and act.

Pervasive impact on our lives

  • TV: 8 hours, 21 minutes per day in a typical household.
  • Average American owns 26 electronic devices for communication and entertainment.
  • 71 percent of America’s 223 million Internet users log on weekly with no destination in mind.
  • Teens and adults average more than two months a year in front of the television, 41 days listening to the radio, and a week online.
  • Americans spend 60 percent of our waking hours consuming media content.


  • Impact of technology, money on communication.
  • Our role: Fish in water.
  • Daily Show, The Family Guy, The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives: Designed for both sophisticated viewers and less skilled media consumers.


  • How would you rate the media literacy of the average American?
  • What drives the media?
  • What impact do media organizations have on society?

From Chapter 2:

  • Digital revolution
  • Seismic shift in mass media
  • Media companies in transition
  • Consumer behavior is shifting
  • Overall media consumption at all-time high
  • Ownership of media companies in fewer hands
  • Impact of globalization on mass communication
  • Audience fragmented
  • Hypercommercialism
  • Convergence

7 thoughts on “Marshall McLuhan: “Does a fish know it’s wet?”

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