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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

November 3, 2012

In one word. Damned good. This is what I called a prophetic writing.

This book is a lamentation of a dying culture, the typographic culture, now being replace by audiovisual culture. The decline has been shown in many books, but never been stated as beautiful and engaging as Postman.

Postman himself, is not the vanguard, he is merely following the footsteps of the prophet before him, Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan has seen that this new culture technology had bring its own nature. The new technology is not just a new medium to carry the old message. It is creating it’s own message.

The audiovisual culture, the TV culture, makes any information becomes brief, disconnected and wrapped it into an entertainment. People start to loose the big picture and the deep analysis. We are always cut by the anchor, because we are nearing the end of the show, or we have to give a break for the advertisement. Postman hits the bulls-eye when he stated that in the good old days, the USA president candidates were given hours to give the address in a debate, not a merely 10 minute. And the debate can be as long as SIX hours, and even more! And people listened! A boy working in tool-shop can be found with a copy of Thomas Paine. To compare it with a contemporary setting, it would be like seeing a waiter with a copy of John Rawls or Amartya Sen. People has simply stop reading and just watching TV.

Postman sees this as a mark for the decline of our civilization. People are becoming obsessed by the trivial information offered by TV, who won the American Idols, for example. TV has indeed revolutionized our civilization. We have passed agricultural age, industrial age, information age, we are now in ENTERTAINMENT AGE. Everything is about entertainment: religion, politics, educations, everything. If it’s not entertaining, it is not good.

I would say this book is a must-read for all of us. And now, we are all immersed into the Internet era, with facebook and twitter. Ask an average teenager about what do they know, and they know only about thing that they know from facebook or twitter. We are becoming more and more ignorant. It is sad to know that, because Internet has the capability of becoming a world wide knowledge distributor, but instead it has become a junk information distributor.

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