Book Blog.*

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Chapter 6
February 15, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Courtesy of The Onion

I still disagree with the notion of adding pictures to my posts, but I would also prefer not to fail, and so here we go:

This post will be short, I suppose, because I feel that many of the things said in this chapter fall under a very tightly-maintained theory and I would just like to address that for the time being. In chapter 6, Postman goes on to take us through the history of technology and our evolving understanding of what is true or important. He discusses the invention of the telegraph and of photography as well. He reminds me that earlier in the book he stated that as a new medium of communication surfaces, the previous one gets pushed further down from our consciousness – It is not that we don’t need or use it, only that it become something that is always present in the background while we are using the newer (and arguably more interesting) medium. This point is something I agree with.

That being said, his language is very emotionally charged, in my opinion. He uses words like obliterated, forced, and undermined when speaking about the impact the telegraph and photography had on the newspaper (something that he’d already stated was experiencing its own degradation). With the novelty of something new (ie. the telegraph) there comes the need to use it, even if it’s for no reason at all. Instead of people learning about things that affected them directly, they began to receive information that he labeled at ‘trivial’ because it was about places they have never been and people they have never met.

This is how our society is now, though, yes?  It’s the reason why the internet, the recent surge of reality television shows and – yes – even the daily news is so popular.  So, of course, I would see no problem with this. I have grown up being somehow connected (and even encouraged during my education) to learn about places, people and things that are foreign to me. He isn’t necessarily wrong with the ‘trivia’ label; he  just seems to equate the confined nature of news that’s happening right on your doorstep with the value of information, while he equates the trivial information that people couldn’t always use in their daily lives as the beginning of a severe decline in our quality of communication.

 Postman goes on to speak about other people who opposed changes that may be far in the past for us and there was always someone who was afraid of what the next best thing would do to us intellectually and morally. Postman was definitely one of them.

Even if the worriers ‘what ifs’ possibly helped us to avoid some of the things they predicted, are their fears legitimate?