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…
Our Speech Defines Us
Speech, of course, is the primal and indispensable medium. It made us human, keeps us human, and in fact defines what human means. That is not to say that if there were no other means of communication all humans would find it equally convenient to speak about the same things in the same way. We know enough about language to understand that the variations in the structures of language will result in variations in what may be called “world view.” How people think about time and space, and about things and processes, will be greatly influenced by the grammatical features of their language. We dare not suppose therefore that all human minds are unanimous in understanding how the world is put together.
- pages 9-10
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