Neil Postman Essay Ch. 1 & 2

Topics: Television, Communication, Entertainment Pages: 2 (665 words) Published: October 31, 2013


Chapter 1 and 2 Summary: Amusing Ourselves to Death

University of Maryland University College

626 words

Chapter 1 and 2 Summary: Amusing Ourselves to Death

“Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman is a work that aims to explore the idea that television has negatively affected the level of public discourse in modern day America. Postman depicts a population too amused by distractions to realize that they had been made powerless. Postman wishes to reveal how discourse inspired by television has turned our world into a tyrannical one. In Chapter 1, "The Medium is the Metaphor," Postman is concerned mostly with the background and analysis of earlier eras. Postman introduces the concept of the "media-metaphor." He states that every civilization's discourse is limited by the biases of the media. Postman suggests, for instance, that an oral culture practices differently than one that has printed language. Postman states that “the information, the content, or, if you will, the “stuff” that makes up what is called “the news of the day” did not exist –could not exist – in a world that lacked the media to give it expression (7). Postman goes on to explain this notion by stating that news, such as wars and murders, would be known or so common as they are if the media did not advertise them. People tend to be interested in other people’s business just to have something to casually speak about. Postman calls the “news of the day” a “media event” (8) because information is now accessible almost instantly and at all times of the day. Postman compares our media-stricken world to a culture that uses smoke signals as their most advanced tool of communication to express that the content of public discourse if deteriorating. In Chapter 2, "Media as Epistemology," Postman examines how any civilization's media will determine the way in which it defines truth. He believes that...

References: Postman, N. (2006). Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business (30th Anniversary ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Books.
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