Today is the birthday of social critic and media ecologist Neil Postman…
In his most prominent book Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), Postman described vividly the crumbling capacity for conversation in American society, a reality that has only expanded in the 30+ years since this book was published.
Here are 5 important passages from Amusing Ourselves to Death on the breakdown of conversation…
The Huxleyan Prophecy
What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.
- pages 155-156
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