Amusing Ourselves to Death

On vacation, while taking a break from technology, was a great time to tackle Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. While this title was originally published in 1985, it provides an excellent perspective on how changes in media have had an effect on how public conversation is carried out.

Postman is concerned not with the possibility of society being controlled by government, but instead of society being lulled away from meaningful conversation by entertainment. Postman suggests that what fashions itself as news is most often truly entertainment that has no impact on daily life. He traces the development of the telegraph, radio and television and their effects on the lives of individuals.

I was sobered and enlightened by Postman’s title. Postman suggests that new technology always comes with both benefits and detriments. There is never a neutral medium. Being aware of the effect that technology has on thinking and conversation is of great importance. I found this book to be particularly helpful for me as I continue to lead the project at Resurrection considering how the internet might be used to encourage people to grow in their faith. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how people carry on conversation or with the effect of media on our lives.