The Medium is the Message: How My Appearance Shapes Your Reality

What do newspapers, YouTube, and my hair have in common? They’re all forms of media! Think about it—what defines media? Well, medium (the singular form of ‘media’), refers to ‘the middle state,’ that is, something between two different concepts, or the channel through which a message is communicated. This message shapes your perception of the world around you, and ultimately, your reality, but what does this have to do with my hair?

Your hair, much like your clothes, or skin, or appearance in general, all communicate a message, whether you intend them to or not. For the entire year of 2018, I proudly wore a head of hair in an ever-changing array of colours. Most days, I’d receive comments from strangers, each of them approaching me with a preconceived opinion of my personality, interests, tastes, and even sexuality.

These people, who did not even know me, were able to form an opinion of me simply through my physical appearance, which acted as the medium to the messages they each believed I was communicating. Although, as everyone perceives things and interprets messages differently, these opinions varied significantly, with some people assuming I was fun, bright and bubbly, while others believed I was rebellious and unprofessional.

However, what if my hair was brown? Or blonde? Or red? How would these opinions differ if the medium through which they were delivered differed? Would I be smart? Dumb? Fun and outgoing, or plain and boring? When the medium is so influential over the message, it too becomes a message in itself, hence McLuhan’s famous phrase, ‘the medium is the message.’

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