The book Amusing ourselves to death is written by Neil Postman, who died this month. He was suffering from Lung cancer. In this book Neil Postman, a former Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at New York University, contends compellingly that television is changing our culture into one huge field for show business in which all public dealings, politics, faith, news, culture, journalism, trade – have been turned into a type of entertainment. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a critical appeal for use to question what is happening before it is too late.
This paper looks at the book with a brief summary followed by an evaluation of the book, this book is very clear about the influence of the medium of television, not only on the people but also on the business side of entertainment, and especially the effect on the print media and journalism.
Amusing Ourselves to Death graphs the decay of Western ‘civilization’ during the past 150 years from the exclusive position of individual communication and discussion. Postman’s topic is the weakening of the printed medium and the dominance of the television with its propensity to present everything, turmoil, government, and weather conditions as sort of amusement. Postman starts by talking about how America was traditionally a “typographical” society. The wealth of debate, teaching, and correspondence was the printed word. With the arrival of the television. His arguments are more than believable and he has a credible viewpoint.
The final consequence, as Postman understands it, is the contraction of society’s communication as TV disintegrates our idea of what comprises more meaningful things like news, political discussion, fine art, even spiritual reflections. The initial chapters outline America’s past interest in the written word, from colonial leaflets to the printing of the Lincoln-Douglas contest.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, American public discourse, being rooted in the bias of the printed word, was serious, inclined toward rational argument and presentation, and, therefore, made up of meaningful content. (52)
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