Feeling Square in front of the TV

“With the arrival of TV and its iconic mosaic image, the everyday life situations begin to seem very square, indeed.” The challenge: how would you explain this sentence to someone who hasn’t read Understanding Media or Marshall McLuhan’s work?

Homework from Andrew McLuhan’s Understanding Media intensive, quote from UM

TVs began arriving in households in the 50s, the “post-war” period is characterized by material prosperity and social uniformity. The simplistic, boring, people were known as squares – because everyone “fit” in. The early televisions were very primitive in their screen’s functioning, the image itself was an obtuse collection of dots – one had to learn to “see” it, until more sophisticated broadcast and television systems were developed. Although the 50’s are characterized as calm, between WWII in the 40s and the social revolutions of the 60s, the human spirit is ever-evolving through the art it produces and consumes. So at tvs proliferated across america and the world, even with just a few channels of basic variety, they opened up and connected those living rooms to deeper stories and to a bigger world than radio; accordingly, that exposure affected how the members of society saw themselves and the world – not just because of the television programming content, but because it meant they were part of the world’s story. Accordingly, the simplistic uniformity of the 50s felt square indeed.