McLuhan is primarily focused on describing ("Understanding") media, not on prescribing what to do with that knowledge. He writes that it is "no time to suggest strategies when the threat [of electric media to Western culture] has not even been acknowledged to exist."[1]

However, McLuhan does occasionally makes prescriptions of what to do as a result of this understanding.

  • The coming of electric media has brought the Western world into a conflict between mechanical and electric media, but focusing on understanding media can help decrease the severity of this conflict.[2]
  • Somnambulism results in media being adopted before their effects are understood, which results in conflict. However, when this dynamic is understood, it is possible to understand the media before they are adopted and so lessen that conflict.[3]
  • No society has ever understood media enough to lessen the negative effects of new media, but that should be the goal of study of media, and it is attainable.[4] One of the most significant advances of the twentieth century was "the technique of the suspended judgment," which allowed people to anticipate the effect of causes and to offset the effect before it comes about. As a result of this technique, the effects of technology may be able to be anticipated for the first time.[5]
  • Because artists are the only ones who have historically understood the effects of media before they occur, society as a whole should re-evaluate the marginal place art is currently given in influencing it.[6]
  • McLuhan has a number of observations about meeting challenges.


  1. UM, p. 18
  2. UM, p. 16
  3. UM, p. 49
  4. UM, p. 64
  5. UM, p. 62
  6. UM, p. 66