Book Blog.*

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapters 1-3
February 1, 2010, 7:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I’ve actually read much more than this post will cover. So far, even though I disagree with a lot of what he has said, I would say this is a very good book. Now, let’s get started:

In the first three chapters, Postman explains why our society is “made” from the ways in which we communicate. As an example, he offers the notion that daily news programs did not exist until there was a medium in which it could be communicated within society – televisions and newspapers. This may be true, but I find it hard to believe there was never a form of daily news within a community before television and newspaper became the norm. Our culture has always been driven by what is occuring around us.

He also says that  all of our communication consists of our interpretation of images from media – after all, they are ours to interpret and we don’t actually need to communicate with other people to comprehend the symbols we are faced with every day. He asserts that it is an internal conversation carried on within one’s self. Furthermore, we are not often aware of the cognitive abilities necessary to interpret these symbols and we hardly think of them.

Each new man-made invention creates a whole new society, he claims. When the clock was created, we became a society that has learned to live “moment to moment” based on a system we have decided was suitble to track time. We don’t see the clock for what it is – a machine that delivers an output that merely appears to produce hours, minutes and seconds and is independant through most environmental influences.  It changes our mindset about how we live our lives and, therefore, changes our culture.

He goes on to say that with each new medium of communication, another form falls by the wayside. He uses the birth of typography as an example:

The invention of the printing press itself is a paradigmatic example. Typography fostered the modern idea of individuality, but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and integration. Typography created prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Typography made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into mere superstition. typography made patriotism into a sordid if not lethal emotion.

I agree with this. A few posts ago, you may remember my media history referring to some people who may see one of the negatives of this technological age as the lacking of direct, interpersonal relationships. I have friends that are often miles and months apart but, when we were younger, always found a way to get together and hang out. That has becoming increasingly unnecessary – What for? We can just text…right?


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